UK minority groups slam attempts to silence Israel criticism

UK minority groups slam attempts to silence Israel criticism
5 min read
18 August, 2018
Dozens of minority rights groups have spoken out against moves to stifle free discussion on Israel and Palestine.
Minority groups believe that their right to criticise Israeli violations is being stifled [Getty]
More than 80 organisations from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities in the UK published a letter on Friday expressing concern with growing attempts to supress their freedom of expression and stifling discussion on Palestine

The letter criticises the working definition of anti-Semitism adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in 2016, which critics say conflates anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of Israel.

"Public discussion of these facts, and a description of these injustices, would be prohibited under the IHRA’s guidelines, and therefore withholds vital knowledge from the public," the statement reads.

"This silencing has already begun. Today we can freely describe the racist policies experienced in the era of British and European colonialism in our countries of origin (indeed it is taught in British schools), but the colonial history of the Palestinians is continually erased."

The statement adds, "this is a dangerous breach of our own rights, and of the wider British public: we must all hear the full story of the Palestinians in order to make sense of the current discussions about racism and Israel."

While not mentioning the Labour party, the letter comes as the Party finds itself mired in an anti-Semitism row, with Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn facing increasing pressure to adopt the full IHRA definition.

The letter goes on to slam the discourse centred around Palestine and Israeli violations, saying that, there are efforts being made by far-right organisations "to deny Palestinians’ basic humanity by suppressing their entire history and current plight."

"We are deeply worried about current attempts to silence a public discussion of what happened in Palestine and to the Palestinians in 1948, when the majority of its people were forcibly expelled. These facts are well established and accessible, are part of the British historical record, as well as the direct experience of the Palestinian people themselves.

The Palestinian community in the UK has raised the disturbing absence of key information about these past and current injustices, and highlighted the racism it exposes then and now."

The letter also makes a mention of the Grenfell Tower fire and the Windrush scandal as examples of the "legacies of British colonialism, where racism forms an integral part of British policies, and renders our communities invisible".

The List of Signatories are:

1.    African Rainbow Family

2.    The Arab Labour Group

3.    The Arab Refugee Support Group (ARSG)

4.    The Association of the Palestinian Community in the UK

5.    Baraka Youth Association (Somali)

6.    Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts (BARAC)

7.    Black Lives Matter UK

8.    Black Women’s Forum UK

9.    The British Arab Association

10.    British Muslim Initiative (BMI)

11.    The British Palestinian Communications Centre

12.    The British Palestinian Policy Council

13.    The Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CACC)

14.    Communities Inc, Nottingham

15.    Community Integration Project, London

16.    Congo Great Lakes Initiative

17.    The Cordoba Foundation

18.    Daikon East Asian Women’s Collective

19.    Dar Assalam – Iraqi Association in Britain

20.    Decolonising Our Minds

21.    Deport, Deprive and Extradite Project

22.    Eritrean Elders Welfare Association in UK (EEWA-UK)

23.    Eritrean Parents and Children’s Association

24.    Europal Forum

25.    Facilitate Global

26.    The General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS)

27.    Grenfell Speaks

28.    Ikram United Kingdom and Eire

29.    Indian Matters UK

30.    Indian Workers Association

31.    International Workers of Great Britain – United Private Hire Drivers Branch

32.    International Workers of Great Britain – University of London Branch

33.    Iraqi Transnational Collective

34.    Iraqi Women’s Organisation: Tadhamun

35.    Jawaab

36.    Justice for Grenfell

37.    Kashmiris for Labour

38.    Kurdish Student’s Union

39.    Kurdish Assembly in the UK

40.    Lebanese Association of Britain

41.    Leeds Unity Centre

42.    Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants

43.    London Latinx

44.    London Race and Criminal Justice Consortium

45.    Media Diversified

46.    Meridian Women’s Association

47.    The Meena Centre, Birmingham

48.    Migrant Media

49.    Migrant Rights Network (MRN)

50.    Migrant Solidarity Manchester

51.    Migrants Organise

52.    Min Quan – Chinatown People Rights Group

53.    Minaret Community Centre

54.    Momentum Black Caucus

55.    The Monitoring Group (TMG)

56.    Movement for Justice

57.    Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland

58.    Muslimahs Resist

59.    Muslim Association of Britain (MAB)

60.    Muslim Worker’s Association

61.    Network of Eritrean Women

62.    Nijjor Manush (Bengali and Bangladeshi Campaigning Group)

63.    North West Peoples’ Voice

64.    Olive – Palestinian Youth Group

65.    Oxford Syria Solidarity Campaign

66.    Pakistani Community Centre Oldham

67.    The Palestine Return Centre (PRC)

68.    The Palestinian Forum in the UK

69.    Pal Med UK

70.    PCS Union National Black Members Committee

71.    Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

72.    Racial Justice Network

73.    Rethink Rebuild Society (Syrian)

74.    Right 2 Work UK

75.    Roj Kurdish Women’s Assembly

76.    Sante Refugee Project

77.    The Society of Black Lawyers

78.    South People’s Project (SOPPRO)

79.    Tunisian Association in Britain

80.    United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC)

81.    Voices for Creative Non Violence UK

82.    West London Moroccan Association – Widadia

83.    Women’s Alliance for Kurdistan, Iraq and Syria

84.    Zimbabwe Human Rights Organisation (ZHRO)