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British police guidance equates anti-Zionism with 'new anti-Semitism'

The College of Policing, a body which sets standards for police in England and Wales, is being urged to revise its guidance on hate crime, which equates anti-Zionism with “a new antisemitism.”

The manual, ‘Hate Crime Operational Guidance’, was published in May 2014, but its definition of antisemitism was recently quoted by Eric Pickles MP on a government website.

In a section on the “historical background” of antisemitism, the guidance states that “the ongoing political conflict between Israel and Palestine has led to a new antisemitism, sometimes also referred to as anti-Zionism.”

The concept of a ‘new antisemitism’ is a highly controversial one, and contested by experts who see it as politicised and unhelpful.

In a crucial section on the “definition of antisemitism”, meanwhile, the College of Policing’s guidance heavily relies on a discredited, and abandoned, document.

In 2005, a working draft definition of antisemitism was circulated by the European Union’s Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), now the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).

The text, drafted with the help of pro-Israel groups, mixes obvious antisemitism (“holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel”), with legitimate political debate (“claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour”).

Contrary to the claims made by a number of Israel advocacy groups, between 2010 and 2013, FRA officials made clear on a number of occasions that the document had never been viewed “as a valid definition” – it was, quite simply, not fit for purpose.

The College of Policing, however, simply refers to “the EUMC working definition”, neglecting to mention that it was only ever a draft, and was subsequently ditched by EUMC’s successor.

Richard Kuper, spokesperson for Jews for Justice for Palestinians, said he was “distressed” to find that the College’s guidance “was guilty of severe misrepresentation about the provenance of and authority of a so-called EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism”.

Contrary to what the publication claims, this was never an official document, was not drawn up by the EUMC, and was never adopted by the EUMC. Its successor body the FRA reported that the document was not fit for purpose and withdrew it from its website.

Kuper has now written to the College of Police asking them to revise the publication, and in the meantime, to ensure that those using the publication are made aware of the issues.

According to a College spokesperson, the guidance was prepared by members of the National Policing Hate Crime Group. The section on antisemitism, the spokesperson said, was “considered by the Community Security Trust and the Board of Deputies amongst others.”

The College of Policing operates “in the public interest” as “an authoritative voice in policing”, with “a mandate to set standards in professional development, including codes of practice and regulations, to ensure consistency across the 43 forces in England and Wales.”

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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