FREE SPEECH UNDER ATTACK Dudley Council officer Paul Jonson is suspended for saying that Israel is a racist endeavour
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As I have been saying for some time, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance so-called definition of anti-Semitism is not about fighting hatred of Jews. Its sole purpose is to defend the Israeli state and its sickening racism against Palestinians/
|The Facebook post that Paul Jonson was suspended for|
Even the author of the IHRA Kenneth Stern wrote in testimony to Congress:
The definition was not drafted, and was never intended, as a tool to target or chill speech on a college campus. In fact, at a conference in 2010 about the impact of the definition, I highlighted this misuse, and the damage it could do
Stern also stated that even when case are lost, the advocates of the IHRA saw a ‘positive benefit – they chilled pro-Palestinian expression.’ That is the only purpose of the IHRA. Stern described what happened when the misnamed Campaign Against Anti-Semitism targeted Professor Rachel Gould of Bristol University as ‘chilling and McCarthy-like’. She was subject to a venomous attack by the CAA because of an article she wrote about the Zionist misuse of the Holocaust. Could there be a more blatant attack on free speech by this despicable ‘charity’?
According to the CAA, she wrote that:
“perhaps the time has come to stop privileging the Holocaust as the central event in Jewish history.” She concluded the article: “As the situation stands today, the Holocaust persists and its primary victims are the Palestinian people.”
What is anti-Semitic about that? Yet the CAA has now targeted someone else, Paul Jonson. And whereas Bristol University defended Professor Gould, Dudley Council has demonstrated that it lacks any backbone whatsoever.
|Demonstration that Paul Jonson attended outside Ian Austin MP's surgery|
Eminent lawyers such as Sir Stephen Sedley, Hugh Tomlinson QC and Geoffrey Robertson QC all described the so called International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism as a threat to free speech.
Hugh Tomlinson declared that the IHRA had
‘a potential chilling effect on public bodies which, in the absence of definitional clarity, may seek to sanction or prohibit any conduct which has been labelled by third parties as antisemitic without applying any clear criterion of assessment.’
Geoffrey Robertson described the IHRA as
‘likely to chill criticism of action by the Government of Israel and advocacy of sanctions as a means to deter human rights abuses in Gaza and elsewhere.’
Whilst also finding that when it comes to genuine anti-Semitism, the IHRA is actually very weak.
‘By pivoting upon racial hatred ... it fails to catch those who exhibit hostility and prejudice – or apply discrimination – against Jewish people for no reason other than that they are Jewish.’
Council Officer Paul Jonson was suspended 2 weeks ago for breaching the IHRA misdefinition of anti-Semitism. Here once again we can see that the IHRA has nothing whatsoever to do with combating hate against Jews, which is what anti-Semitism is about and everything to do with protecting the world’s most racist state.
A state where 48% of its Jewish population, a plurality, support the physical expulsion of its non-Jewish population. [Israel’s Religiously Divided Society, Pew Research Centre] A state where 93% of the land is reserved for Jews. A state which defines itself not as a state of its own people, the basis of non-racist nationalism from the French Revolution onwards but as a state of only a section of its population, the Jewish section.
For stating the obvious, that Israel is a racist endeavour, i.e. the Zionist project was racist from its inception, which is a perfectly valid point of view, Paul has been suspended.
This is a direct attack on freedom of speech. It vindicates the decision of Liberty’s AGM to oppose the IHRA. It vindicates the decision of the University College Union to oppose the definition. The suspension of Paul could be the beginning of a wave of attacks on the basic rights of employees to express themselves freely without fear of being victimised.
Any idiot, Dudley’s Council leaders apart, knows that expressing views about a state is not racist. Is it racist to say that the Burmese state is a genocidally racist state? Or that Egypt is a vicious Police state? Why because a state defines itself racially as ‘Jewish’ is an exception made. Israel is a state that has just passed the Apartheid Jewish Nation State Law which specifically excludes Israel’s non-Jewish population from national rights.
This isn’t about anti-Semitism it is about protecting the West’s investment in and reliance on the Israeli state, its policeman in the region..
The time is long overdue when a concerted fightback needs to be made against this McCarthyist attack on idea, which is eroding basic rights such as freedom of speech and assembly
|Ian Austin - nasty pro-war Zionist MP|
Dudley Council has suspended one of its officers over allegations that he posted anti-Semitic material on Facebook.
Mr Jonson attended the protest outside Ian Austin's constituency office.
Paul Jonson, an anti-social behaviour officer at the authority, has been accused of violating the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism with a post describing Israel as a ‘racist endeavour’.
It refers to a protest outside Dudley North Labour MP Ian Austin’s constituency office on October 6, where placard waving activists demonstrated against Israel’s ‘murderous occupation of Palestine’.
Dudley North MP Ian Austin
Mr Jonson’s post read: “Stand with Palestine. Israel is racist endeavour.”
The council, which signed up to the full IHRA definition last year, acted following an official complaint from the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism.
Bosses ordered Mr Jonson to stop attending work while an investigation is ongoing.
Mr Jonson attended the protest outside Ian Austin's constituency office which featured in this Facebook post
Dudley Council’s chief executive, Sarah Norman, said: “We have received a complaint and are investigating it.”
Mr Jonson, who attended the demonstration, posted on Facebook: “I have been accused under the IHRA code via a complaint received at the Chief Execs Dept that my post “Stand with Palestine - Israel is a racist endeavour” – is anti-Semetic (sic).
“I was interviewed on October 18 and instructed to ‘refrain from work’ until further notice. I am still not at work.
“I have been advised by DMBC they are still awaiting further ‘legal advice’.
“This is obviously being robustly refuted by myself. FREE SPEECH ON ISRAEL – FREE PALESTINE!!”
Paul Jonson's post on Facebook
He added that he was planning to meet with his union, Unison, to discuss the issue.
Stephen Silverman, the director of investigations and enforcement at Campaign Against Antisemitism, has called for Mr Jonson to be sacked from Dudley Council.
He said: "Mr Jonson seems to be intent on baiting the Jewish community by breaching the International Definition of Antisemitism.
"His appalling behaviour shows that he is utterly unfit to hold the office of Anti-Social Behaviour Officer for Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council.
"We are glad that the Council has suspended him following our complaint.”
Mr Austin was targeted by pro-Palestine campaigners over his stance against anti-Semitism in the Labour party.
He has been an outspoken critic of Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of the issue, which saw the party embroiled in a series of rows with Jewish groups over the summer.
After the protest, Birmingham Palestine Action group said: “We must continue to call out all those people in power who remain silent while Israel continues it’s murderous occupation of Palestine. It was made clear to Ian that his unconditional support for Israel and silence regarding the consistent violation of Palestinians’ human rights will no longer go unchallenged.”
On Sun, 28 Oct 2018, 00:05 Paul jonson wrote:
I wish to add the following, reference my interview on Thursday 18th October 2018 with Tom Mountford and Amanda Hubble and the ongoing "refrain from work" decision which on Monday 29th October 2018 will be into it's third week.
I was contacted on the previous day 17th October 2018 by Tom Mountford and advised to attend an urgent meeting at Regent House at 9.30am. I was not advised of the details other than a complaint had been received relating to a private Facebook post I had made. I was not provided with any information relating to the complainant or complainants or the Facebook posts content.
The preliminary interview was cordial and relaxed and was conducted via a pre determined script that involved in excess of 20 questions. My responses were specific and truthful. I was shown screen shot of both my FB profile and a post dated 5th October 2018. The post read _" Stand with Palestine - State of Israel is a racist endeavour ". I was asked whether this was my post _- I answered proudly yes it was.
I was advised that a complaint had been received at the Chief Executives from the Campaign against anti semitism.
‘It is not only the victims of hate to stand up but for every decent citizen to recognise prejudice in all it's guises . When we see hatred -we must stand shoulder to shoulder with the victims and call it out " - Ian Austin MP 18.09.2018 speaking at a memorial event for Frank Fowley a brave individual who saved hundreds of Jewish people from Nazi concentration camps and death.
I concur 100% with these words and consider myself and my colleagues in the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign to be amongst those "decent citizens " Ian Austin referred to - to call out hate and stand shoulder to shoulder with the victims.
The post in question was directly related to the Dudley Palestine Solidarity Groups lobby of Dudley North MP Ian Austin , this was in response to a tweet he had sent regarding the murder of over 18 young Gazans who had been shot by Israel's IDF troops at the Gazan border fence protests for demanding the right of return to their Homeland.
The MP had attributed the blame to Hamas and the protesters themselves.
The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhu at a press conference on the 15thMay 2018 stated that - "the Palestinian protesters deliberately ran in front of bullets fired by the Israeli military during the border protests to make Israel look bad" -'Hamas were to blame.
On the 6th July 2018 I attended a lobby at Dudley Library when Ian Austin on two occasions referenced my employment with DMBC to which I retorted "that my day job was of no relevance to why I was supporting this lobby and I asked the MP if he was trying to intimidate me?".
My protest stating Israel is a racist endeavor is somewhat inaccurate - Israel is a racist apartheid state.
WHY IS THIS SO?
In 1948 at the inception of the State of Israel Zionist groups expelled 750,000 Palestinians . In Palestine this is known as the " Nakba" which translates as the "catastrophe. Over 90% of all Palestinians who would have been inside the new State of Israel borders were and are denied to this day the RIght of Return. Zionism lays claim to the land based on biblical timelines over 2,000 yeas ago , yet denies the right of return for Palestinians going back less than 75 years.
1) Palestine is under illegal Military Occupation in violation of International law.
2) more than 50 separate laws for Palestinians only - more than half adopted since 2000.
3) Land Law - stipulates ownership of " Israel Lands" controlled by the State of Israels Jewish National Fund (JNF) leasing land only to Jewish citizens.
4) Absentees Property Law 1950 - states Palestinian refugees expelled after 1947/48 are denied any rights.Their houses, land, apartments and bank accounts were confiscated by the State of Israel. Simultaneously the Law of Return was passed in 1950 giving Jewish people from anywhere in the world the automatic right to Israeli citizenship and residence.
5) In March 2018 Israel passed a law to revoke residency rights of any Palestinian to reside in Jerusalem on the grounds of " breach of loyalty to Israel".
6) A ban on Family Unification , when the spouse is an Israeli citizen and the other is a resident of the occupied territories I
7) Trial for Palestinians by Military Courts not civil courts.
8) Child Detention Centres for Palestinians - illegal under International Law
9) Separate roads for Palestinians.
10) An Aparthied Wall in the occupied territories three times the height of the old Berlin Wall and stretching over 700km - equivalent distance from London to Zurich.
11) Daily Military checkpoints for Palestinians
12) Regular house demolitions to make way for settler expansion.
13) Poisoned Water Wells and reduced electricity supply - in Gaza only 6 hours per day.
The 2018 Nation State Law further entrenched Apartheid Law which states only Jewish people have the right to self determination. This Law prompted the Israel Pianist Daniel Barenboim to state - " I don't think the Jewish people lived for 20 centuries mostly through persecution and enduring cruelties in order to become the oppressors. - this Law does exactly that . Therefore I am ashamed of being an Israeli citizen."
Apartheid is a crime under International Law . The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has urged the State of Israel to , quote - " prohibit and eradicate it's policies of Racial segregation and Apartheid". Even the USA accepts that Palestinians face ' institutional and societal discrimination". On a visit by Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Israel in 2012 he stated that " there are many aspects of Palestinian life that are worse than the dark days of Apartheid South Africa.
These discriminatory apartheid racist laws which impact daily on Palestinians are an historical fact of life - not opinions.
AWARENESS OF IHRA
As stated in my prelimininary interview I am aware of the IHRA and it's history. It is not a legal document but an advisory package . It's original conception and purpose was educative and awareness raising of the Holocaust. It's recent history has included the "weaponisation" by the State of Israel and Zionist supporters in an attempt to closedown debate and criticism of Israel and curtail Palestinian Solidarity.
It's author Kenneth Stern has stated on record that his intention was not to stifle criticism of the State of Israel , his intention was to be a "working definition" designed to help "standardise data collection" on anti semitic hate crimes and not to be a Legal or regulatory tool for the suppression of academic or political free speech. It's intention was to strengthen awareness of the Holocaust .
The IHRA is not universally recognised out of 195 countries only 31 have adopted the document and only 7 with the full examples. The most controversial addition is the one regarding "the State of Israel as a racist endeaver". To criticise Israel and it's policies of Apartheid is not anti semitic. Some 45 Jewish Groups , the Institute for RaceRelations,leading lawyers such as Hugh Tomlinson, Geoffrey Bindman,Sir Stephen Sedley,Brian Klug have all expressed their concerns about the weaponisation and misuse as a tool to suppress debate and activism regarding Palestinian Human Rights. As decent citizens we all have a duty to challenge both individual and Institutionalized Racism - including both anti semitism and Islamophobia. Palestinian voices have both a right to be heard, a right to self determination and a right to describe their own history and injustices - which deny them equal status in the State of Israel via it's Apartheid Laws. For Palestinians the racist endeaver is a racist reality.
WHY DID I POST THE MESSAGE?
I have for many years been a supporter of Palestinian rights and a member of Solidarity Campaign's. Social media is a very useful tool to organise and communicate and provides an immediate forum for ideas and activism. It is a tool to be used responsibilly for free expression (not licence) for information sharing and organising as long as it does not incite discrimination ,hatred or violence. The CPS in 2017 updated a change of law regarding it's guidelines relating to Hate crimes whether online or offline. My post does not violate any of these guidelines - as with all of our rights comes responsibility , respect and tolerance.
WERE MY COMMENTS OFFENSIVE?
There is no right NOT to be offended. Because some people or groups are offended does not in itself mean that a statement is offensive,and certainly in relation to my FB post on the 5th October 2018 anti semitic.
My post would have been anti semitic if it had displayed prejudice , hostility or hatred against Jewish people - it was not in any way using a stereotype or trope. I do not consider the wording offensive - it did deliberately use "a play on words" but context is everything. For example the word HATE is a powerful word both a noun and a verb - and is usually understood correctly to mean to despise, dislike, have intense hostility etc , but it's meaning and context as a signifer is received differently within the culture when we prefix for example - " Love Music - Hate Racism". The word Hate manifests itself differently because of the context of use.
WAS THE POST ANTI SEMITIC ?
NO. For the following reasons.
Anti semitism is a form of Racism along with the much more prelevant Islamophobia , see the latest Hate Crime statistics with over 52% registered as Islamophobic Hate Crime. Anti semitism consists of prejudice ,hostility or hatred towards Jewish people as Jews, which includes the use of stereotypes such as " Jews are good with money " or it's "Jews that control the Worlds Financial markets etc"
Jewish Faith ,Israelis and Zionists are all separate categories of historical definition . Holding ALL Jewish people responsible for the crimes of the State of Israel and it's crimes against Palestinians would constitute a charge of anti semitism, this is a crucial point. This is why the post references the State of Israel not Jews.
Criticising the State of Israel as a Zionist project does not constitute criticising Jewish people as individuals or as a People therefore it is not anti semitic. It is true some Jewish peoples are Zionists - the majority are not . For example in the United States the most militant supporters of the State of Israel are not Jewish Zionists but Christian Zionists.
Oxford Dictionary definition of Zionism -. "Zionism is a political movement to establish a Jewish State in Palestine and a Zionist is a supporter of that movement".
Zionism predates the Holocaust by some 60 years ,Zionists were discussing the establishment of a State of Israel long before Hitler and the Holocaust, the concept divided the Jewish Community then as it does so now. The most fierce critics of the State of Israel are Jews and include some of the finest minds within the Jewish community such as Noam Chomsky, Michael Rosen, Illan Pappe,Dr Norman Finkelstein, Gideon Levy,David Graeber, David Rosenberg etc.along with Jewish Groups including Orthodox Jews who are a regular feature on Palestinian Solidarity protests.
Anti semitism and a charge of anti semitism carries an immense moral force due to World War 2 Nazi atrocities and the Holocaust. To "extend" the meaning of anti semitism and to use it to apply to critics of the State of Israel is cheap and an utter insult to the millions of Holocaust victims. It is both historically incorrect and politically dangerous and devalues the horrors of the Holocaust.
It is the State of Israel which is desecrating the memory of Holocaust victims by ruthlessly manipulating the horrors to suppress all legitimate criticism of the State of Israels actions in the illegally occupied territories and Gaza. All forms of Racism - which include both anti semitism and Islamophobia are on the increase both in Europe and the UK. The latest Hate Crime figures illustrate this trend which has been increasing over the past 15 years , particularly Islamophobic Hate Crime - but also increases in anti semitism, Disability Hate Crimes and Black Hate Crimes. We have witnessed a climate of Hate for many years via both Political and Media outlets around Refugees, Migrants, Go Home vans on the streets of East London, Hostile Environment speeches and most shockingly this year the reporting of citizens in our Black communities being both held in Detention Centres and deported. People who have lived in this country all their lives.
For any Politician or Group to manipulate serious social and political issues by deliberately conflating legitimate criticisms of the State of Israel with a slur of anti semitism is dishonest and extremely unhelpful in tackling genuine anti semitism. To label peaceful campaigns in response to the State of Israels Human Rights abuses , support for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions as ""inherently" anti semitic deems the struggle against anti semitism in which all decent citizens and organisations should be involved.
It is also worth examing the meaning of the word "Semite?". A word that includes various people's - including Arabs. So if one is an anti Semite one is also anti Arab. Although Jewish people are often included in the semite grouping - Judaism is a Religion not a race or ethnicity. To state that the State of Israel is a Racist State which is true based on it's policies and law making it has nothing to do with being against Jews as Jews -. but rather with the State of Israels Government pursuing discriminatory policies and enshined in law against the Palestinian population forcing them to live as second class citizens and denial of basic democratic rights.
The State of Israel from it's inception was created and built on violence and oppression of the Palestinian population, some 70 years ago . That violence is continuing and we are are again reminded of it's violence each Friday when the young people of Gaza engage in a March of Return at the Gaza border and are met with bullets and tear gas , since 31st March 2018 over 200 have been shot dead by Israeli soldiers.
DID THE POST BRING THE COUNCIL INTO DISREPUTE?
It was a post describing the State of Israel as I have illustrated . It was a posting on the message board of Facebook in my own time not as an employee of DMBC.
A posting legitimised via Human Rights Act Article 11 - the right to associate with others and gather for a common cause -the right to free expression the right to peaceful protest and free speech.
All Public bodies must protect a citizens Human Rights via the 1998 Human Rights Act.
I totally refute the allegation made by the pro State of Israel front organisation Campaign Against Anti semitism that my FB post is anti semitic .
An organisation that was formed in 2014/15 to defend the State of Israel and it's Human Rights abuses against Palestinians in the aftermath of the invasion of Gaza in 2014 and the death of over 1500 civilians which included hundreds of children - rather than confront genuine anti semism. After all one would expect all decent citizens to campaign against anti
I applaud and support all genuine actions against anti semitism . I have attended many of the Dudley Holocaust Memorial Events at Dudley college where Holocaust survivors have made extroadinary moving speeches about their experieces and shared this important message with a new generation of students. It is extremely important - now more ever - that people are reminded of how societies can "slip" into a populist language and where such language and actions can lead.
I stand with all decent citizens in both a personal capacity and professional capacity to combat prejudice, discrimination and hate . This includes active solidarity and support for Palestine.
FREE SPEECH ON ISRAEL. -. FREE PALESTINE
27th October 2018.