Report: The Independent Columnist Mira Bar Hillel Wrong on EU Anti-Semitism Definition Repudiation
by Joshua Levitt
Mira Bar Hillel, a Jewish columnist for the UK’s The Independent newspaper, put false words in the mouth of the European Union, when she said it had repudiated a long standing definition of anti-Semitism, UK media watchdog CiF Watch reported on Wednesday, citing contradictory email communication from the EU.
Bar Hillel’s column, “The EU has retired it’s ‘working definition’ of anti-Semitism – it’s about time: This definition of anti-Semitism has been too stretched for too long,” prompted criticism over The Independent’s choice of writer to probe the issue, after she admitted her bias against Jews, and charged that the definition was being used to stifle free speech. In her column, Bar Hillel said she contacted the EU and was told that the definition had been “dropped.”
“The announcement was not heralded, headlined nor trumpeted. But a European Union agency this week officially dropped its ‘working definition’of anti-Semitism, adopted in 2005. The EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) now says it is neither able nor authorised to define the term,” Bar Hillel wrote last week.
But CiF Watch on Wednesday published back and forth emails, posted below, from one of its supporters who asked the same question to the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) – the successor agency to the EUMC, the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia — that painted a much different picture, with an important nuance lost to Bar Hillel.
Adam Levick, CiF Watch editor and Algemeiner blogger, wrote, ” The next time a commentator hostile to Jews or Israel claims that the EU ‘retired’ or ‘repudiated’ the EUMC Working Definition, you can definitively respond that their Fundamental Rights Agency – per their own words – did nothing of the sort.
“As we’ve noted on numerous occasions, the Working Definition is not law. However, it does represent a widely respected and practical guide (formulated by NGOs and reps from the Tolerance and Non-Discrimination section of the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in 2005) used by law enforcement agencies and human rights bodies in the EU to help determine what constitutes anti-Jewish racism.”
“Those committed to defending the fundamental human rights of Jews would be wise to follow their lead,” Levick said.