We must stand against anti-Semitism while maintaining the right to be critical of the Israeli state
While strongly supporting the need to act against anti-Semitism, many GUE/NGL MEPs are condemning the definition of anti-Semitism in a resolution that was adopted yesterday by the European Parliament.
The resolution adopted conflates anti-Semitism with political criticism of the actions of the state of Israel.
Together with the Greens, GUE/NGL had tabled an alternative resolution without the controversial elements, as well as proposing some amendments to change the resolution co-signed by the EPP, S&D and ALDE groups (who had refused to negotiate any slight changes to the text).
These amendments were not adopted, however, with the exception of one which calls on the member states to cooperate and dialogue with Jewish communities, and also with civil society organisations and anti-discrimination NGOs.
GUE/NGL Shadow Rapporteur, Barbara Spinelli, explains:
"We must seriously address the increase in anti-Semitic actions across Europe. My group has always been committed to combating anti-Semitism as well as all forms of discrimination, hate crimes and hate speech."
"However, I am profoundly against the definition of anti-Semitism given by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which was adopted in the resolution.
"This is a trap because it hampers freedom of expression, including among a large number of Jewish European citizens who are also critical of the policies of the state of Israel.
"It also insidiously suggests that the sources of anti-Semitism do not lie in the gaze of the anti-Semite, but instead could lie within Jewish people themselves, if they oppose the policies of the state of Israel.
"The real definition of anti-Semitism, suffice it to say, is hostility towards Jewish people because they are Jews. Full stop.
"This hostility pre-dates the birth of the state of Israel. Anyone who has a memory of Europe’s history will be aware of that, especially in Germany, France, Italy, Austria or Poland.
"The amendments that my group tabled along with the Greens aimed to define anti-Semitism more carefully and prevent silencing of dissent.
"Our intention is to give a voice to all of the Jewish associations which are critical of the state of Israel as well as to try to combat all xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Roma sentiments and other phobias and stigmas that still exist in Europe. Anti-Semitism has always been the precursor to other phobias and persecutions," the Italian MEP concluded.
Some German MEPs of our group voted in favour of the definition of anti-Semitism adopted in the resolution, having personally a different view of the historical responsibility of their country.