Finkelstein Why The British Labour Party Should Not Adopt The IHRA Definition

Why The British Labour Party Should Not Adopt The IHRA Definition

Norman G Finkelstein - 28 August 2018

Will the British Labour Party adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism? Leaders of the British-Jewish community have been strong-arming Labour to accept it. The Party is scheduled to make its fateful decision in a matter of days. The definition is supplemented by 11 illustrations. Fully seven of them, however, home in not on antisemitism per se but instead on criticism of Israel. Natan Sharansky famously formulated a 3D Test of Antisemitism that was later touted by Israel’s supporters: demonization, double standards, delegitimization. Whatever the virtue of his checklist, it might be said that the IHRA illustrations constitute a textbook case of the 3S Test of Political Censorship: suppression, selective application, special pleading. Before documenting this, however, the debate surrounding adoption of the IHRA definition and illustrations must be situated in a broader context.

The IHRA definition imposes constraints on speech in the Labour Party. In a word, it is censorship. It might be argued that the Labour Party is a voluntary organization and as such has the right to set rules and parameters on its members’ public utterances. But at its worthiest, the liberal-left tradition, of which the Labour Party is an offspring, has attached a unique, primordial value to Truth, and recognized that, in the search for truth, untrammeled open debate is essential.... See more

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