Media Release from Alternative Jewish Voices of Aotearoa
The NZ Jewish Council has released a survey which calls hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders antisemitic for expressing views consistent with those of the world’s leading human rights organisations. By conflating legitimate criticism of Israel with the hatred of Jews the survey is weaponising antisemitism in a way that it is more than dishonest. It is dangerous. Their method should not have been funded.
The survey uses a sweeping definition of antisemitism which conflates opposition to the occupation with the hatred of Jews. Known as the IHRA Working Definition, it has no official standing in Aotearoa, none. This survey shows us why it is so dangerous. Of the survey’s 18 attitudes, fully half are attitudes about Israel rather than Jews. Therefore, this survey seeks out public objections to Israel’s occupation of Palestine and calls that racism. The NZ Jewish Council has a history of calling disagreement racist.
If, for example, a respondent simply agrees with the conclusion of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Harvard Law School and others that Israel’s regime constitutes apartheid, that respondent is classed as hating Jews. Literally: the survey has no category called ‘agree,’ only a category called ‘antisemitic.’ If a person understands that Palestinians are indigenous to Palestine, they are antisemitic. If they do not consider Israel democratic because they see that the government of Israel wields power over millions of West Bank and Gaza Strip Palestinians who cannot vote in Israeli elections, they are classed as antisemitic. These are not hateful attitudes to Jews, they are attitudes that show respect for democracy, international law and human rights.
The Jewish Council’s partisan method has undermined what should have been a serious and timely study of antisemitism. Instead, they have used their platform to alienate our neighbours whose concern extends to the rights of Palestinians.
And where does this method leave Palestinians? A Palestinian who asserts her identity and her full human and political rights would fall foul of this survey on several counts. The NZ Jewish Council has published a document that renders Palestinian identity racist. It should not have been funded.
The study’s first category comes closest to a real definition of antisemitism. Those responses give us sufficient concern to work more closely within Aotearoa’s broad antiracist community. It is a travesty that the NZ Jewish Council went on to politicise the exercise and place one more obstacle in the path of a genuine Jewish antiracism.
Alternative Jewish Voices of Aotearoa NZ