Antisemitism in Political Parties (AIPP)—Aims and Methodology
Historically, antisemitism does not lead to wide- spread violence and institutional discrimination against Jews except where it is politically encour- aged by institutional leaders. Examples include the role of the Catholic Church and aristocracy in the persecution of Jews in Medieval Spain, the role of the Tsarist bureaucracy in supporting pogroms in the Russian Empire, and the role of the Nazi Party in organizing the violent repression of Jews in 1930s Germany. In his history of the notorious antisemitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Norman Cohn writes as follows: "[T]he men who propagated the Protocols were often pogromshchiki at heart, waiting hungrily for the chance to organise massacre. Whether they ever got that chance or not depended entirely on what happened to their countries during the Second World War. In the embattled democracies, such people lapsed into obscurity, when they did not disappear into jail – but in those parts of Europe where the Nazi leaders were able to implement their plans for geno- cide, various dingy figures, hitherto known only as editors or publishers of the Protocols, were suddenly transformed into important administrators, with responsibility for drafting and implementing antisemitic legislation."
Cohn’s point is that, without political support, antisemites remained on the fringes of society, but with such support, they were able to cause terrible suffering. Therefore, political parties’ attitudes to allegations of antisemitism among their own officers are of the greatest impor- tance. Do they take such allegations seriously, investigate them thoroughly, and (where neces- sary) apply sanctions—or do they brush them aside as if unimportant?
AIPP is an ongoing monitoring and research project set up by a charity, Campaign Against Antisemitism, in 2016 to monitor both antise- mitic discourse in the public statements of offi- cers of UK political parties and the subsequent disciplinary handling of such cases by the par- ties themselves. In an increasingly febrile polit- ical atmosphere surrounding issues relating to Israel and antisemitism following the Gaza war of 2014 and the elevation of Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the Labour Party in 2015, the authors of the project realized that there was a clear need for an evidence-based record to be kept of incidents of political antisemitism, using a clear and objective set of criteria.
It was realized that few, if any, UK political parties had clearly set out, transparent disci- plinary processes for dealing with incidents of racism (including antisemitism) as are common in other institutions, such as professional bodies, businesses, or other large and influential mem- bership-based organizations. In light of the fact that officers of political parties are public fig- ures with a public mandate, the absence of such disciplinary processes would have an effect on the propagation of antisemitic discourse. This project assesses the roles of political parties in dealing with antisemitism.
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Norman Cohn. Warrant for Genocide: the Myth of the Jewish World Conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1967), 243.
Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, Working Definition of Antisemitism (2016), https://www.holocaustremem- brance.com/sites/default/files/press_release_document_antisemitism.pdf
See https://antisemitism.uk/politics/labour/#jackie-walker and https://antisemitism.uk/politics/labour/#gerald- kaufman.
“Tense Scenes and Dismay from Jewish Delegates at Labour Party Conference as Vote Awaited on New Rules Making It Easier to Expel Antisemites From The Party,” Campaign Against Antisemitism, https://antisemitism.uk/ tense-scenes-and-dismay-from-jewish-delegates-at-labour-party-conference-as-vote-awaited-on-new-rules- making-it-easier-to-expel-antisemites-from-the-party/.
David Hirsh, “The Livingstone Formulation” in Eunice G. Pollack, ed., Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism: Past & Present (Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2016). https://engageonline.wordpress.com/2016/04/29/the-living- stone-formulation-david-hirsh-2/.
“The Labour Party’s Promise to Cast Aside the International Definition of Antisemitism and Come Up With Its Own
Better Version Is a Further Insult to the Jewish Community.” Campaign Against Antisemitism, https://antisemitism.uk/the-labour-partys-promise-to-cast-aside-the-international-definition-of-antisemitism-and-come-up-with-its-
“CAA Makes Direct Appeal to Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn’s Supporters for Evidence of Antisemitism in
All Political Parties,” Campaign Against Antisemitism, https://antisemitism.uk/caa-makes-direct-appeal-to-
“Antisemitism in Political Parties,” Campaign Against Antisemitism, https://antisemitism.uk/politics/manifesto/.
“The Labour Party Will Now Keep the Outcome of Disciplinary Cases Secret, Including the Case of Jackie Walker,”
Campaign Against Antisemitism, https://antisemitism.uk/the-labour-party-will-now-keep-the-outcome-of-disci- plinary-cases-secret-including-the-case-of-jackie-walker/ and https://antisemitism.uk/the-chakrabarti-inquiry-is- a-vague-meaningless-whitewash-that-will-do-nothing-to-rid-labour-of-antisemitism/.
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