Israel’s defenders in the UK have said their efforts to stop ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ events this year will focus on a new definition of anti-Semitism, which states that it is anti-Semitic to call Israel a ‘racist state.’
The campaign, which is being led by Israel Britain Alliance (IBA), will concentrate on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism, adopted in December 2016.
“That definition explains that claiming that the existence of the state of Israel is a racist and illegitimate endeavour is anti-Semitic,” said IBA director Michael McCann.
“Therefore, by the Government’s own measure, the words ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ are manifestly anti-Semitic and violate the IHRA standard.”
Pro-Israel campaigners in previous years have focused on universities’ responsibilities to uphold the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) to have due regard to achieve the objectives set out under s149 of the Equality Act 2010.
This means they must eliminate discrimination and foster good relations between those who share a relevant protected characteristic – such as race and religion – and those who do not share it.
McCann, a former MP, said Israel Apartheid Week was “used by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to demonise and delegitimise the State of Israel,” adding that it was “unacceptable for British universities to give these events a venue in the mistaken belief that this is about free speech”.
This year will be the 14th annual Israeli Apartheid Week of actions taking place around the world between 19 February and 17 April. It is as “an international series of events that seek to raise awareness of Israel’s apartheid system over the Palestinian people and to build support for the growing BDS movement”.