Pretending to combat anti-Semitism, EU authorities this week unveiled a plan to restrict displays of sympathy with Palestinians. The plan’s anti-Semitism strategy, as it was dubbed, soon gained support from pro-Israel lobbying groups. That was unsurprising for one simple reason: the same lobbying organizations heavily affected the plan’s substance. The proposal was ostensibly the responsibility of the European Commission, the EU’s executive.
The Commission has pledged to assist in the establishment of a network of “trusted flaggers and Jewish organizations” to combat “online anti-Semitism.” Meanwhile, EU states are encouraged to grant police and judicial agencies more authority and resources so that they can punish “hate speech” on the internet. These suggestions are similar to recommendations made by pro-Israel organizations in at least three policy papers published during the last three years. The only significant difference is that some of the pledges made by EU officials are stronger and more clear than what lobby groups fought for in those papers.
While many of the actions proposed in the plan appear to be commendable on the surface, they are inextricably linked to how the EU has long enabled Israel and its allies to define the narrative on anti-Semitism. If previous history is any guide, Jews who advocate for Palestinian rights will not be among the “Jewish organizations” joining the network for internet monitoring. The European Commission prohibited Jews who refused to behave as apologists for Israel from participating in the new plan’s working group.
The initiative primarily depends on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism. That term confuses telling the truth about Israel’s racism with anti-Semitism. Margaritis Schinas, deputy president of the European Commission, claimed last week that “anti-Semitism can often hide behind anti-Zionism.” Zionism is the ideology that underpins Palestine’s occupation by Israel and the widespread expulsion of Palestinians. Everyone who believes in core concepts of fairness and equality owes it to themselves to oppose such utterly racist ideology.