Better late than never. Or is it?
Soon after the report was released, I wrote that it gives Israel and its lobby carte blanche to smear the movement for Palestinian rights as anti-Semitic.
The report endorsed the so-called IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.
This definition, promoted by Israel and its lobby groups, conflates criticism of Israel and its state ideology Zionism, on the one hand, with anti-Jewish bigotry, on the other. (Don’t miss The Electronic Intifada’s new mini-documentary on how the IHRA definition is used to attack supporters of Palestinian rights!)
Shaheed, a former Maldives foreign minister who now directs the Essex Human Rights Centre, is a supposedly independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council.
Human rights defenders have however faulted him for ignoring Israel’s systematic violations of the religious freedoms of Palestinians, while being highly critical of Iran – a country disfavored by Western governments.
Nonethless I gave Shaheed credit for acknowledging that critics of the IHRA definition are concerned that “it can be applied in ways that could effectively restrict legitimate political expression,” including criticism of Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.
But I went on to explain how Shaheed’s report does precisely that. It gives broad credence to Israel’s efforts to redefine advocacy for Palestinian equality as anti-Jewish bigotry.
Although I tweeted my article at Shaheed as soon as I published it, he only responded to my tweet this week – two years later!
There is not a single paragraph in the report that you can point out as being inaccurate or biased,” Shaheed asserted.
He also claimed that the conclusions in the report’s section dealing with questions related to Palestine solidarity “are factual statements.”
Again, I can give Shaheed credit for his albeit belated willingness to engage with me, but for not much else.
I responded that those conclusions “are based on an extremely biased viewpoint that takes Israel’s political decisions and claims as a given.
Ahmed Shaheed@ahmedshaheed·Oct 6, 2021Replying to @AliAbunimahThere is not a single para in the report that you can point out as being inaccurate or biased! @LitmusTimesAli Abunimah@AliAbunimahNot at all. They are based on an extremely biased viewpoint that takes Israel’s political decisions and claims as a given, for example that Zionism is not racism. How is it not racist for Israel to deny Palestinian refugees the right to return home just because they aren’t Jews?4:55 PM · Oct 6, 2021
offered specific examples from the report to back up my criticisms.
Shaheed’s 2019 report asserts that there have been “numerous reports of an increase in many countries of what is sometimes called ‘left-wing’ anti-Semitism” among those criticizing Israeli policies.
Examples he cites include that people “have conflated Zionism, the self-determination movement of the Jewish people, with racism” and “claimed Israel does not have a right to exist.”
What are the sources of data backing up the claim of an increase in “left-wing anti-Semitism” and how precisely is this defined?
And how can he claim that saying Zionism is racism is an example of anti-Jewish bigotry unless he indeed conflates being Jewish with being a Zionist?
Ahmed Shaheed@ahmedshaheed·Oct 6, 2021Replying to @AliAbunimah and @LitmusTimes All your criticisms ignore the careful phrasing of various issues addressed in the report.Ali Abunimah@AliAbunimahI read it very carefully but are you able to answer my specific questions? Do you consider the statement “Zionism is racism” to be a criticism of a state’s political ideology and policies or an example of anti-Jewish bigotry?5:21 PM · Oct 6, 2021
Do you consider the statement ‘Zionism is racism’ to be a criticism of a state’s political ideology and policies or an example of anti-Jewish bigotry?” I asked directly.
Despite putting the questions to Shaheed more than once, none of his tweets responding to me made any attempt to address their substance.
Finally, I told Shaheed that he seemed to go silent when challenged to give precise answers.
Ali Abunimah@AliAbunimah·Oct 7, 2021Replying to @AliAbunimah @ahmedshaheed and @LitmusTimesI notice you go silent when asked precise and specific questions. Are you not able to defend your assertions?Ahmed Shaheed@ahmedshaheedI believe your question was where is the evidence of left-wing antisemitism? I think that is a good exit point for me.7:56 AM · Oct 7, 2021
Shaheed’s bravado was apparently an attempt to convey that the answer to my question is so self-evident that it is beneath him to respond.
But if he had data showing an increase in so-called left-wing anti-Semitism why wouldn’t he just say what the source is?
Ahmed Shaheed@ahmedshaheed·Oct 7, 2021Replying to @AliAbunimah and @LitmusTimesI believe your question was where is the evidence of left-wing antisemitism? I think that is a good exit point for me.Ali Abunimah@AliAbunimahIt’s indeed an excellent exit point for someone who can’t provide their data. I can see that you are not used to being asked to back up your assertions with evidence and facts.7:59 AM · Oct 7, 2021
These are the same sorts of distortions and lies that Israel and its lobby have used for years, for instance against former UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
He probably would have done himself a favor by maintaining his silence.
Ali Abunimah@AliAbunimah·Oct 7, 2021Replying to @ahmedshaheed and @LitmusTimesIt’s indeed an excellent exit point for someone who can’t provide their data. I can see that you are not used to being asked to back up your assertions with evidence and facts.Ali Abunimah@AliAbunimahAnd that was not my only question. You came in to the discussion full of confidence but have totally failed to answer any of the concerns I raised. Go back to the Israel lobby groups who don’t ask questions and just pat you on the back for being a good boy.