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Antisemitism and Israel’s right to exist | Letter

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The 122 Palestinian and Arab intellectuals (Letters, 29 November) have taken it upon themselves to define antisemitism and the struggle for Jewish rights. This is a mistaken approach which also fails to understand the IHRA definition of antisemitism. Antisemitism manifests itself, in part, by denying to Jews their collective right to self-determination under international law. That is why the view of Israel as a “racist endeavour” is an example within the IHRA definition. A Jewish majority state is no more racist than a Muslim or Christian one.

The current plight of Palestinians, far from being an intrinsic feature of Zionism, is the outcome of a tragic conflict between two peoples. In recent decades, Israel has made at least four offers to partition the land and create a Palestinian state, with every offer rebuffed, often violently. Palestinian rejectionism is thus the main cause of their statelessness.

The IHRA definition does insist that legitimate criticism of Israel, similar to that levelled against other countries, cannot be antisemitic. Denying Israel its right to exist as a sovereign state is a different matter.

Jeremy Havardi

Director, B’nai B’rith UK’s Bureau of International Affairs