A British parliamentary report condemned what it called “the growing prevalence” of anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom, notably calling for the term “Zionist” to be considered “inflammatory and potentially anti-Semitic.”
The report, issued by the parliamentary Home Affairs Committee, came in the wake of accusations of anti-Semitism against the Labour Party and the National Union of Students (NUS).
It highlighted that the UK remained “one of the least anti-Semitic countries in Europe” and that police and judicial responses to anti-Semitism were “for the most part excellent,” although it expressed alarm at an increase in “potentially anti-Semitic views” following the devastating Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip in 2014.
lol u little liars lol the report was on anti Semitism only lol https://t.co/nBUdPReRCf
— Never Again UK (@Never_Again_UK_) October 17, 2016
While much of the report focused on anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom, it also addressed the issue in the context of discussions regarding the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The report called for the British government to “adopt an amended definition of anti-Semitism, aimed at promoting a zero-tolerance approach while allowing free speech on Israel and Palestine to continue.”
The committee report went on to call Israel “an ally of the UK Government” and “generally regarded as a liberal democracy, in which the actions of the Government are openly debated and critiqued by its citizens.”
ICYMI, here's my article on the Home Affairs Select Committee's highly flawed and partisan report into anti-Semitism https://t.co/bgQSDBIH0D
— Asa Winstanley (@AsaWinstanley) October 16, 2016
The report did not mention the ongoing Israeli crackdown on critical voices within Israeli society, as well as on foreign activists.
However, it stated, “It is not anti-Semitic to criticise the Government of Israel, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent,” adding that “it is not anti-Semitic to hold the Israeli Government to the same standards as other liberal democracies, or to take a particular interest in the Israeli Government’s policies or actions, without additional evidence to suggest anti-Semitic intent.”
The report criticized the use of the term ‘Zionist’ as used by ‘anti-Semites’ to refer to all Jews, saying that while the “concept remains a valid topic for academic and political debate, both within and outside Israel…The word ‘Zionist’ (or worse, ‘Zio’) as a term of abuse, however, has no place in a civilized society.”
“For the purposes of criminal or disciplinary investigations, use of the words ‘Zionist’ or ‘Zio’ in an accusatory or abusive context should be considered inflammatory and potentially anti-Semitic,” the report read.
The committee went on to recommend that critics of Israel avoid using the term “Zionist” when denouncing discriminatory Israeli policies against Palestinians, saying:
“Those claiming to be ‘anti-Zionist, not anti-Semitic,’ should do so in the knowledge that 59 percent of British Jewish people consider themselves to be Zionists. If these individuals genuinely mean only to criticize the policies of the Government of Israel, and have no intention to offend British Jewish people, they should criticize ‘the Israeli Government,’ and not ‘Zionists.’”
Many advocates of the Palestinian cause contend that their criticisms of Israel have been conflated with anti-Semitism by Israel supporters in order to silence their denunciation of the country’s discriminatory policies and the siege on Gaza.