Entanglements: the IHRA, Jews and non-White minorities

Soundings - ISSN 1362-6620
Volume 2022 Number 80

Entanglements: the IHRA, Jews and non-White minorities
Moshe Behar pages 82-96
DOI: 10.3898/SOUN.80.06.2022


The IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism - whether intentionally or not - has had the effect of separating antisemitism from other forms of racism. Of the eleven illustrations that the IHRA definition marshals to exemplify antisemitism, seven relate to post-1948 Israel. As a result, the Zionist/Arab matrix dominates the definition, and the examples come across as concerned more with the protection of Israel than the protection of Jews, let alone non-Israeli Jews. The right’s campaign for its imposition as the sole acceptable definition, together with its focus on antisemitism to the exclusion of other forms of racism, has significantly undermined potential solidarities with other minority groups. In an expansion of the instrumentalisation of accusations of antisemitism for right-wing conservative ends, since October 2020 there has been a campaign by the UK government to demand that University Vice Chancellors in England formally adopt the definition. The aim of this article is to offer an explicitly non-white Jewish perspective on the post-2015 trajectory that underpins the drive for universities to adopt the IHRA definition. This involves, first, a discussion of some of the wider arguments about antisemitism, including the problems of the IHRA definition and its use by the Israeli government and its allies as a means of silencing critics; and, second, an exploration of the ways in which the Tory focus on antisemitism, accompanied as it is by downplaying other forms of racism, is so unhelpful for Jews labouring to cement common ground with other minority groups.

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To cite this article
Moshe Behar (2022) Entanglements: the IHRA, Jews and non-White minorities, Soundings, 2022(80), 82-96. https://doi.org/10.3898/SOUN.80.06.2022

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