The British government is set to formally adopt a definition of what constitutes anti-Semitism and which includes over-sweeping condemnation of Israel, The Guardian reported on Sunday.
Britain will become one of the first countries to use this definition of anti-Semitism, as agreed last May at a conference of the Berlin-based International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to say in London.
A Downing Street statement said the intention of such a definition was to “ensure that culprits will not be able to get away with being anti-Semitic because the term is ill-defined, or because different organizations or bodies have different interpretations of it”.
The IHRA’s definition reads: “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
More detailed guidance on this, released by the IHRA in May, said this could include criticisms which target Israel, if this was “conceived as a Jewish collectivity”, according to The Guardian.
“However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic,” the new definition adds.
The guidance says it could be considered anti-Semitic to accuse Jews of being more loyal to Israel or their religion than to their own nations, or to say the existence of Israel is intrinsically racist.
The move comes amid an alarming increase in anti-Semitic incidents in Britain in recent years. Recently released statistics found that there has been a 61 percent increase in anti-Semitic crime in Britain over the last year.
Two weeks ago, Britain’s Home Secretary Amber Rudd pledged to spend millions to provide guards for all Jewish schools, colleges, nurseries and synagogues.
Concerns about criticism of Israel as a state potentially crossing into overt anti-Semitism has had particular recent resonance in British politics over recent months, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn commissioning a report into the issue in his party.
In recent months, Labour has been forced to suspend dozens of its members over anti-Semitic comments.
These include the vice-chair of the Corbyn-supporting group Momentum, Jackie Walker, who in October was removed from her post in the wake of remarks questioning the need for security at Jewish schools, and about Holocaust Memorial Day.
Also suspended was former London mayor Ken Livingstone, who had said Hitler had supported Zionism “before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews”.
Corbyn, who was re-elected in September, has come under fire himself due to his calling Hamas and Hezbollah his “friends” and for outright refusing to condemn those two terrorist organizations despite being urged to do so by local Jewish groups.
He recently, however, took back those earlier comments.
A spokeswoman for Corbyn said he and Labour agreed with the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism.
“Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party share the view that language or behavior that displays hatred towards Jews is anti-Semitism, and is as repugnant and unacceptable as any other form of racism,” she told The Guardian.