Volume 25 Issue no. 1 of the European Journal of Current Legal Issues is a special issue devoted to the topic of contemporary antisemitism. Only one of the issue's five articles directly addresses the law. Of course antisemitism, which may be classified as religious or racial hatred depending on the circumstances, frequently engages the law. Its commission may lead to a Public Order Act offence or may result in a claim alleging hostile environment harassment under section 26 Equality Act 2010. In fact, at the time of writing, the Crown Prosecution Service is considering whether any Public Order Act offences have been committed by members of the Labour Party following the presentation of a file of evidence by Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.
Since 2015, the Labour Party has been particularly instrumental in bringing awareness of contemporary antisemitism into the public domain in Britain. Prior to that, many people assumed that antisemitism had died in the fires of Auschwitz, and were unable to recognise it unless it presented itself in the form of a jack booted storm trooper. Now, there seems to be a greater public awareness of antisemitism at the level of discourse, particularly in the form of the replication of antisemitic tropes in relation to certain, although not all, criticism of Israel. Despite this, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism (2016), which gives examples of antisemitism in relation to Israel, remains controversial on the grounds that it infringes free speech; and there are still those who allege that complaints about antisemitism in the Labour Party are a bad faith attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn.
The articles published in this issue, however, are not concerned with the prevailing problems in the Labour Party. Rather, they comprise a selection of papers presented at The Second Bristol-Sheffield Hallam Colloquium on Contemporary Antisemitism: Antisemitism in the Media - The Old and the New , which was held at Sheffield Hallam University, 14 - 16 September, 2016. This was the second colloquium in a series of two, the first having been held at Bristol University in September 2015. The impetus for these colloquia, which were organised and hosted by Dr Jonathan Campbell of Bristol University and myself, were the recent attacks on Jews in various European cities and the sense that these could not be separated from wider geo-political and ideological factors. We therefore brought together international experts in history, law, linguistics, politics, psychology, religious studies and sociology to examine the complexities of contemporary antisemitism, in an attempt to understand its resurgence. Eleven of the papers presented at the 2015 colloquium are published in Unity and Diversity in Contemporary Antisemitism: The Bristol-Sheffield Hallam Colloquium on Contemporary Antisemitism (Academic Studies Press, 2019), edited by Jonathan G. Campbell and myself; and I am delighted that five of the papers presented at the 2016 colloquium, along with the keynote address, are published in this issue of the prestigious European Journal of Current Legal Issues.
The keynote address was delivered by Ben Cohen. Cohen is a senior correspondent at The Algemeiner. As well as having written for The Wall Street Journal, Ha'aretz, Tablet and Commentary, he is the author of Some of My Best Friends: A Journey Through 21st Century Antisemitism, published in 2014, and is co-editor of The Norman Geras Reader: What's There is There, published in 2017. In his keynote address, Cohen analyses the presence of antisemitic motifs in the bitterly-fought US presidential election of 2016, and examines the place of antisemitism in American society more broadly, pointing out some key differences with Europe in terms of antisemitism's evolution within a nation that has been distinguished by an abundance of "philosemitism."
Dr Matthias J. Becker is a linguist affiliated with the Moses Mendelssohn Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Potsdam in Berlin and his scholarship focuses on language, society, and the internet. His article examines the linguistic nature of antisemitic stereotypes in the online comments of readers of The Guardian and Die Zeit newspapers when discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It also examines the historical analogies that these readers drew between the injustices they perceived on the part of Israel and those historically committed by their own countries, Britain and Germany. Dr Becker is currently undertaking postdoctoral research at the University of Haifa which involves a linguistic examination of Brexit debates as a catalyst for antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism and nationalism. His book, Analogien de 'Vergangenheitsbewaltigung' was published in 2018 by Nomos as part of its Interdisciplinary Studies in Antisemitism Series.
Dr Marc Grimm is a research associate in the Faculty of Educational Science at the University of Bielefeld, Germany. He has published articles on right-wing extremism, antisemitism and racism and is co-editor of Antisemitism in the 21st Century: Virulence of an Old Enmity in Times of Islamism and Terror published in 2018 by De Gruyter. His latest work, "Germany's Changing Discourse on Jews and Israel" appears in Alvin H. Rosenfeld, ed., Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism: The Dynamics of Delegitimization (Indiana University Press, 2019). His article considers the success of the AfD in Germany and places its growing popularity within the frame of the recent rise of right-wing populist parties in Europe. He discusses the party's position on Israel and the Jewish community and its uneasiness with Germany's politics of remembrance and concludes that the pro-Israel and anti-antisemitism positions taken by some of the party's members are to whitewash its public image while serving to enable the articulation of antisemitism in public discourse.
Bernard Harrison is an Emeritus Professor in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Sussex and Emeritus E. E. Ericksen Professor of Philosophy at the University of Utah. He is the author of nine books, including The Resurgence of Antisemitism: Jews, Israel and Liberal Opinion (Rowman and Littlefield, 2006). His recently completed second book on antisemitism, Blaming the Jews: Politics and Delusion is due to appear in 2020, published by Indiana University Press. In his article, Professor Harrison considers and explains the difference between antisemitism that targets Jews as individuals, considered to be an ordinary ethnic prejudice, and antisemitism directed at the Jews as an organised collective, which manifests itself in various versions of conspiracy theory. He discusses the work of Telushkin and Prager on the one hand, and David Nirenberg on the other, which provides different reasons for animus of the latter kind. Professor Harrison then goes on to offer a resolution of their differences by proposing entirely new accounts.
Dr Stephen Riley is a lecturer in law at the University of Leicester. His principal research focus is human dignity and the law. He published a monograph on human dignity and the law in 2017 and co-authored the entry on human dignity in the Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, as well as having published many articles and a book on legal theory. I am a senior lecturer in law at Sheffield Hallam University and affiliate professor of law at the University of Haifa. My principal research focus is antisemitism and the law. I have published on campus antisemitism, Holocaust distortion, antisemitism in British politics and on Fraser v The University and College Union. In 2018 I was appointed editor-in-chief of the Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism. In our co-authored article, Dr Riley and I examine the frequent media accusation that Israel uses 'disproportionate force' in the conduct and impact of its military operations. We begin by clarifying the law of armed conflict and the principles relating to the doctrine of proportionality in order to highlight the media's misuse of the disproportionate force accusation, which we demonstrate through an analysis of media discourse. We offer some explanations as to why the media persistently misuses the doctrine of proportionality in relation to Israel, and include the role of NGOs by considering their objectives and narratives and their relationship to antisemitic tropes and themes. We conclude with a reflection on good media practice in relation to the law and Israel.
Dr Matthias Kuntzel is a political scientist and historian. He lectures political science at a technical college in Hamburg, Germany. Between 2004 and 2015 he was an external research associate at the Vidal Sassoon International Centre for the Study of Antisemitism (SICSA) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Since 2001 his research and writing has focused on antisemitism, Islamism and National Socialism, Iran, and German and Western policies towards the Middle East and Iran. His many books and articles have been translated into 14 languages and his 2007 book, Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11, was awarded the Grand Prize at the 2007 London Book Festival, as well as the Gold Award for Religion at the 12th annual Independent Publisher Book Awards in 2008. In his article, Dr Kuntzel examines the influence between 1939 and 1945 of Nazi Germany's radio propaganda in the Arabic language. This urged those listening to prevent the birth of a Jewish state in Palestine and to exterminate the Jews already living there. Dr Kuntzel describes the secret cooperation between Nazi officials and the Muslim Brotherhood, which ultimately led to Egypt and other Arab States waging a full-scale war against the Jews of British Mandate Palestine. He effectively demonstrates a temporal and an ideological proximity between the Nazi war against the Jews and the Arab war against Israel in 1947/48.
It just remains for me to thank the editor-in-chief of the European Journal of Current Legal Issues, Dr Catherine Easton, for granting a special issue of the Journal to publish these articles. I am grateful for her patience and for the trust she has placed in me. The contributors to this issue and I remain in her debt.
Lesley Klaff, March 2019.