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JVP, ISHR urge States to protect advocates for the rights of Palestinians

On Thursday 27 June 2024, during the 56th session of the Human Rights Council, director of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) Stefanie Fox delivered a joint statement addressing the repression and criminalisation of those who advocate for the human rights of the Palestinian people, including through the weaponisation of antisemitism.

The statement was delivered during the Interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity following the presentation of her report entitled: ‘Participation of civil society organisations seeking to express international solidarity through transnational, international and regional networks’.

Civil society and international experts have continued to raise grave concern at the attacks on fundamental freedoms when advocating for the human rights of Palestinians, especially by authorities in Western countries. In her report to the Council, the Independent Expert on International Solidarity called on States to ‘eliminate the criminalisation of international solidarity expressions and symbols and calls for accountability for violations of public international law norms, such as calls for peace, self-determination or decolonisation and the ending of apartheid or genocide […]’ stressing that States ‘should not conflate them with “manifest support of terrorism” or antisemitism in relevant legislation or regulations’.

Similarly, the Special Rapporteur on racism also raised concern at ‘accusations of antisemitism on the basis of legitimate criticism of treatment of Palestinians by Israel’ in her report following her visit to the United States. The Special Rapporteur on Education, following her visit to the United States, stressed that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition conflating criticism of Israel with antisemitism is being used to crackdown against pro-Palestinian protesters, including individuals who ‘self-identify as belonging to the Jewish community or represent Jewish student associations’.

Jewish Voice for Peace, speaking on behalf of hundreds of thousands of Jews, stated that ‘one of the most dangerous tools used to further the repression is IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism. ‘The intentional mis-defining of antisemitism in fact endangers Jewish communities by making us a cover for the Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity,’ said Stephanie Fox, director of Jewish Voice for Peace. ‘It is designed as a muzzle against speech, assembly, and protest, in order to shield the Israeli government from being held accountable because it conflates political criticism of the State of Israel with antisemitism. And most importantly, it smears and punishes the Palestinian people – and all those who stand with them – for rising up for their freedom,’ Fox added.

The organisations called on States to take action to end the repression and criminalisation of groups and individuals advocating for the human rights of the Palestinian people, including through the instrumentalisation of antisemitism (IHRA definition).

To read the full statement click here.

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