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2016: Thinking Aloud

A number of people have been in contact regarding the official statement CMJ released following the suspension of two key Labour Party members. In these responses people have wanted to know some more about what Anti-Semitism is and how CMJ opposes it. Alex addresses this in this blog.

A number of people have been in contact with me responding to the statement I issued on behalf of CMJ UK about Anti-Semitism and the suspension of two key Labour Party members.

In these responses people have wanted to know more about what Anti-Semitism is, and how CMJ opposes it.

Well here goes:
Anti-Semitism is somewhat of a slippery term – maybe this is reflected in the fact that there are three acceptable ways of spelling Anti-Semitism (Antisemitism or anti- Semitism). Also Anti-Semitism has been (and still is) manifested in so many ways throughout history with examples dating back to persecution in Egypt (1500 BCE). However, most Anti-Semitism was born out of the resolute Jewish refusal to accept prevailing Greek cultural and religious values from the 3rd century BCE onwards. This Anti-Semitism is reflected in the writings of Lysimachus, Agatharchides, Manetho and many others. Also throughout history distinctions can be made between religious, political, economic, cultural, and racial motivations for Anti-Semitic thinking and Anti-Semitic actions. Yet the common usage of the term and the compound word Anti-Semite dates back to Germany in 1879.

My preferred simple definition of Anti-Semitism, learning from this long historical context is as follows: The hatred of, and unjust discrimination against Jewish people, Jewish culture and Jewish Institutions.

Anti-Semitism is a sin and a form of racism and has its roots in the denial of a person’s common humanity and the purposes of God. Anti-Semitism must be resolutely opposed and wherever possible uprooted.

As I wrote in my statement, there is rightly a distinction between opposition to or criticism of the philosophy of Zionism, or the actions of Israel as a Nation State and Anti-Semitism. However where the acceptable line is drawn is complex, and often has much to do with the inner motivation of the one speaking as well as the wider religious, personal and political contexts of those hearing and responding.

CMJ UK has a Strategy for opposing Anti-Semitism which currently focuses on nine core activities. This strategy was updated in May 2016. If you would like a copy of this strategy please e-mail me (alexj@cmj.org.uk)and I will send you a copy.

If you do have any further questions, please email the office.

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Thinking Aloud