Activists in New Zealand are celebrating victory after they blocked an effort to censor speech supportive of Palestinian rights.
The city council in the capital Wellington was due this week to consider adopting the International Holocaust Rememberance Alliance’s misleading definition of anti-Semitism.
But the motion was withdrawn after a campaign by supporters of Palestinian rights.
The so-called IHRA definition is being promoted worldwide by Israel and its lobby, and this measure was proposed by the Wellington Jewish Council and supported by the New Zealand Jewish Council.
But the Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa, a national coalition, urged the mayor and city council to abandon the measure.
“It would be far better for Wellington City to pass a comprehensive anti-racism resolution rather than have a divided vote on the proposed ‘anti-semitism’ resolution,” the group stated.
Progressive Jewish voices
Jewish activists also spoke out against the resolution.
Marilyn Garson and Fred Albert, members of a progressive synagogue, wrote an op-ed noting that the IHRA definition incorporates a set of supposed examples of anti-Semitism “which have been used to conflate criticism of Israel with a hatred of Jews.”
“Given this document’s global trail of controversy, we were stunned to see a motion on Wellington City Council’s agenda for Wednesday, 26 February, to adopt the IHRA document for our city,” they added.
The activists also noted that Kenneth Stern, the main author of the IHRA definition and a former executive of a major US Israel lobby group, has condemned efforts to legislate the definition and use it to police speech supportive of Palestinian rights.
City councilor Iona Pannett told media she supported the decision to remove the item from the agenda. She acknowledged she had heard from members of the Jewish community who did not agree with its wording.
“We want a peaceful and safe way of discussing it, away from the public glare,” Pannett said.’
Read more: Activists block Israel lobby censorship effort in New Zealand