Campaign Against Antisemitism’s analysis is that Cllr Harper’s actions and statements amount to breaches of the International Definition of Antisemitism and qualify as antisemitic discourse according to our methodology.
The allegation that Jews harm non-Jewish children is an element of the ancient blood libel. By sharing a post in which it was alleged that Israelis perpetrated and took pleasure in “the masscare of Palestinian children”, using language which has particular significance in Christian tradition [2a], she was disseminating material which was “using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g. claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterise Israel or Israelis.”
By sharing a post in which all Jews were implicated in the supposed crimes of Israel through the use of the hashtag “#Jews” [2b], she was disseminating material which was “holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel.”
Given that much of the debate “over recent years” in the UK over antisemitism has revolved around the failure — of the political left in general and the Labour Party in particular — to recognise that discourse regarding Israel and the Israeli government can, indeed, be antisemitic, and that Jewish groups and individuals have been prominent among those who have highlighted this, by alleging that claims of antisemitism are made indiscriminately against “anyone who criticises this Israeli Government policy” and that this was “a rather sinister example of a smoke and mirrors tactic” which was “designed to shut down discussion” ; by alleging the existence of a deliberate attempt to “go after” Plaid Cymru representatives with accusations of antisemitism in order to “stop criticism of the Israeli government”, which she characterised as a “witch hunt” [4a]; by claiming that allegations of antisemitism made against her were simply “smears” provoked by her criticism of Israel and were intended to prevent such criticism [5a]; and by accusing an individual objecting to antisemitism of doing so in bad faith, as a “tactic” [5b][5c], Cllr Harper was both deploying and endorsing the deployment of the so-called ‘Livingstone Formulation’, by accusing Jews who cite evidence of antisemitism of lying, conspiring or having deceitful motives in doing so, when there is clear evidence that there have been breaches of the International Definition of Antisemitism. This constitutes “making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews…” under the definition.
Additionally, by characterising those making accusations of antisemitism as being of “the right”, she was advancing an antisemitic trope which has gained currency in left-wing discourse which allows the views and concerns of Jewish people not only to be dismissed, but which also seeks to demonise them by association with political groups already demonised on the left, either by employing the generalised term ‘right wing’, or by explicitly linking them with the Conservative Party, which is often associated with the notion of ‘evil’ in left-wing discourse. This further constitutes “making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews…”
We further note that the report of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) following its statutory investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party, in which Campaign Against Antisemitism was the complainant, includes a section entitled “Types of antisemitic conduct that amounted to unlawful harassment” with a subsection entitled “Suggesting that complaints of antisemitism are fake or smears”. This subsection states that: “Labour Party agents denied antisemitism in the Party and made comments dismissing complaints as ‘smears’ and ‘fake’. This conduct may target Jewish members as deliberately making up antisemitism complaints to undermine the Labour Party, and ignores legitimate and genuine complaints of antisemitism in the Party. These comments went beyond simply describing the agents’ own personal experience of antisemitism in the Party.”
Additionally, in its report, the EHRC made clear that its judgements apply to all political parties and emphasised that the European Convention on Human Rights does not protect racist speech, which may include antisemitic speech.
On this basis, the EHRC found that denying antisemitism in the Labour Party and making comments dismissing complaints as “smears” or “fake” — such as allegations that complaints of antisemitism are “part of a smear campaign by ‘the Israel lobby’ to stigmatise critics of Israel as antisemitic, and…intended to undermine and disrupt the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn MP” — are not protected by the fundamental right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights because they amount to unlawful harassment of Jewish people.
Furthermore, the EHRC specified certain examples of antisemitic conduct that would be unlawful on the same basis within the relevant context.
Cllr Harper’s comments in which she deploys the so-called Livingstone Formulation as described above; and her “blaming Jewish people generally for the actions of the state of Israel” [2b] appear, under our analysis, to be captured within the examples given in the EHRC’s report.
Moreover, by deploying the so-called Livingstone Formulation as described above; and by “blaming Jewish people generally for actions of the state of Israel” [2b], Cllr Harper, as an agent of her Party, may have caused Plaid Cymru to breach equality legislation.