Jonathan Arkush: ‘Israel hate should be included in definition of antisemitism by Europe’

Board President Jonathan Arkush has welcomed a proposal from US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Ira Forman that the EU should include Israel hate in its definition of antisemitism.

In a speech in Berlin, Mr Forman called on the EU to revise its definition of antisemitism to include extreme anti-Israel sentiments.

Jonathan said: “The Board of Deputies has long advocated the re-adoption by the EU of a definition of antisemitism.  I am therefore strongly supportive of Special Envoy Ira Forman’s call for a new definition.  The Board welcomes the important support for its view now voiced by the US Administration and notes that Ira Forman’s speech rightly emphasised that anti-Israel bigotry tends to morph into antisemitic hate.  This reflects the Board’s oft-repeated view based on experience in the UK.  I look forward to meeting Special Envoy Forman in London on Friday when I shall express to him personally how much his Berlin speech will be welcomed and cited in the UK.”

In his Berlin speech, Mr Forman said: “While we understand the complexities of this issue and the importance of context, we are concerned about those instances where the line is crossed between legitimate opposition of Israeli government policies into rhetoric that questions Israel’s right to exist and targets Jewish communities outside of Israel.

“Thus we encourage European governments to adopt a working definition of antisemitism, ideally, one which would include a section on how antisemitism relates to Israel, to improve the safety and well-being of Jewish communities in Europe.

“We should also note that we are very careful to use this definition appropriately and object to its misuse as part of efforts to silence the legitimate criticism of Israeli policies. It is important to be as accurate as possible and not overstate or understate the problem. Unfounded accusations of antisemitism motivated by ideological or political aims distract from and are counterproductive to good-faith efforts to combat antisemitism.”

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