Methodist conference to be pressed to embrace EUMC definition of anti-Semitism

David Hallam writes:

It is heartening to see that three circuits have submitted resolutions (or “memorials”)  affirming Methodist opposition to anti-Semitism and expressing concern at the impact of the disastrous 2010 report and resolution purporting to about “justice” for the Israelis and Palestinians.

The charge is led by the  The Barnet and Queensbury (35/35) circuit which has the highest percentage of Jewish residents in the UK. Last month I heard their impressive superintendent speak at a meeting in Harrow and was very impressed by what he had to say.

Their memorial M32 outlines the growing difficulties facing the Jewish community in the UK and asks conference to reaffirm our formal opposition to anti-Semitism. Possibly the most significant sentence in the memorial is the inclusion of the The European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, ‘Working Definition of Anti-Semitism

This however will create difficulties for the British Methodist Church. For example at last year’s conference a guest speaker Naim Ateek accused Jews of using the Holocaust as a Zionist tool, with the Holocaust used as an “industry” which is “exploited for financial gain”. This speech was applauded by the very people, such as our outgoing President, who are now running round boasting that we are involved in interfaith engagement with the Jewish community in Britain.

Our outgoing President herself repeated, without evidence, an anti-Semitic urban myth perpetuated by the anti-Semites in Palestine. I heard  with my own ears one of the members of the working party  say that the Jews in Israel were creating a “new Holocaust” in the Holy Land. And as forElizabeth Harris’s rant which hung around on the official website for several years, what do we make of that?

All these actions, all in the official name of British Methodism clearly contravene the EUMC definition of anti-Semitism.It will be interesting to see if the Barnet and Queensbury memorial survive intact. I will comment on the other memorials later in the week. In the meantime, less there be any doubt, here is the working definition in full:

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

In addition, such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.
Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:
  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
  • Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context could include:
  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.
However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.
Antisemitic acts are criminal when they are so defined by law (for example, denial of the Holocaust or distribution of antisemitic materials in some countries).
Criminal acts are antisemitic when the targets of attacks, whether they are people or property – such as buildings, schools, places of worship and cemeteries – are selected because they are, or are perceived to be, Jewish or linked to Jews.
Antisemitic discrimination is the denial to Jews of opportunities or services available to others and is illegal in many countries.

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