“The biggest contention that my fellow critics of the IHRA
examples have is with a particular one that focuses on calling the state
of Israel a racist endeavour. IHRA’s defenders like to say that it
allows for criticism of the policies of Israel, but not of the endeavour
of building the Israeli state per se (that is to say, Zionism).
But this is an impossible distinction to maintain in
practice. Allowing criticism of policies but not allowing a discussion
of the ideologies or political movements that are behind those policies
is nonsensical. It is like saying you are allowed to criticise
privatisation, because it is a policy, but you aren’t allowed to link
that to neoliberalism as the ideology that upholds it.
Under the IHRA, almost any discussion about
Palestine is liable to descend instantly into rancour and recriminations
on this basis, even more so than in the current febrile atmosphere.
We cannot contravene the right of Palestinians to freely articulate
their oppression, and deter human-rights groups, intergovernmental
agencies or activists from taking up their cause. Our rich history and
tradition as a labour movement of standing shoulder to shoulder with
Palestinians would be heavily penalised.