Action on anti-Semitism blah blah blah


Sir, – Alan Shatter reminds us how inadequate the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism is (“Action on anti-Semitism Blah blah blah”, November 29th). By mentioning only hatred, it fails to catch the much less extreme hostility which is how anti-Semitism often manifests itself in this country. By arguing that certain criticisms of the State of Israel should be seen as evidence of anti-Semitism it invites Israel’s advocates to substitute personal accusation for reasoned debate.

Mr Shatter is surely right, though, in arguing that we need to define anti-Semitism if we are to combat it. The traditional, simplest and best way to define anything is by genus and specific difference; that is by first saying what kind of thing it is (genus) and then saying how it differs from other things of that kind (specific difference).

That approach leads to a definition of anti-Semitism as tribal hostility (often called racism) directed against Jews. Such a definition requires no “illustrative examples”. – Yours, etc,


Rathmines, Dublin 6.

Sir, – Alan Shatter expresses doubts about the Government’s seriousness in combating anti-Semitism and offers an “effective” solution– for it to adopt the IHRA definition.

The definition itself is well formed, but the examples as cited by Shatter are very troubling as many of them link anti-Semitism to criticising Israel.

The IHRA can represent Holocaust survivors, but it can’t decide the limits for the victims of Israeli policies and anti-apartheid activists. Many examples are harmful for Palestinians and pro-Palestine activism.

– Yours, etc,



student, UCD.