Israeli citizens against adoption of IHRA definition of anti-Semitism by the Slovak Parliament


October 2018

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We are a group of Israeli citizens, active against our government's policies of occupation, colonization, and apartheid against the Palestinian people [1]. Some of us are the descendants of Holocaust survivors. We are committed to universal principles of equality in human rights and to the struggle against any form of racism, including anti-Semitism.

As part of our activities, we support the Palestinian civil society call for a democratic, nonviolent campaign for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against the Israeli government and against Israeli and international institutions or companies that are complicit in Israel's severe violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.

In view of this, we appeal to all the members of the Slovak parliament who support democracy, human rights and freedom of speech, to reject the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and the so-called 'examples' included in their current draft.

We note that the definition has never had unanimous support among all Jews [2]. In fact, a Legal Opinion, commissioned in the UK by a Jewish-led consortium, has warned that the IHRA document was badly drafted and confusing and that it risked “unlawfully restricting legitimate expressions of political opinion”. The Opinion states that “pro-Palestinian campaigners who, for example, describe Israel as a settler-colonialist state enacting a policy of apartheid or call for policies of boycott, divestment, or sanctions against Israel, cannot properly be characterised as anti-Semitic.”

The IHRA definition has been known to silence fair criticism of Israel.

We also note that in May this year, Britain’s leading civil liberties NGO, Liberty, warned that “by blurring the previously clear understanding of the nature of anti-Semitism, the IHRA definition risks undermining the defences against it.” They also took the view that by conflating ‘anti-Semitism’ with ‘criticism of Israel and legitimate defence of the rights of Palestinians,” it threatens to undermine freedom of expression.

In June 2018, 27 prominent British Jews concerned about the dangers of conflation, issued a statement saying that “criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic unless motivated by anti-Jewish prejudice,” and “criticising laws and policies of the state of Israel as racist and as falling under the definition of apartheid is not anti-Semitic.”  This statement was endorsed by leading public figures across a range of professions and political affiliations.

In July 2018, 30 Jewish organisations in a dozen countries issued a Global Jewish Statement that urges “our governments, municipalities, universities and other institutions to reject the IHRA definition.” The definition, it says, is intentionally worded so that legitimate criticisms of Israel and advocacy for Palestinian rights can be equated with anti-Semitism “as a means to suppress the former.” This conflation, it says, “undermines both the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality and the global struggle against anti-Semitism”.

History will not be kind to racism. In time, this will include the illegal policies of our government against the Palestinian people. We are convinced that the Slovak parliament should not be complicit in Israel's illegal policies, by silencing criticism of these human rights violations. We call on you to reject the attempts to confuse the public, and to conflate valid criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.



Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within 

(aka Boycott from Within - Israeli citizens for BDS)