It is possible to stand up for the right to criticise Israel—as a victory for a Palestine solidarity activist last month showed.
Paul Jonson, a Dudley council worker in the West Midlands, was suspended from his job last year after calling Israel a “racist endeavour” on Facebook.
His case was a test of how far accusations of antisemitism under the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition can be used to clamp down on criticism of Israel.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA)—which considers anti-Zionism to be antisemitic—complained about Paul to Dudley council.
There are also questions to be asked about the role of Labour MP Ian Austin in Paul’s victimisation.
The complaint came after Austin—an “honorary patron” of the CAA—recognised and confronted Paul at a lobby outside one of his surgeries.
Yet for all that, Paul was told last month he would be allowed to return to work and no accusations of antisemitism would be recorded against him.
Crucially, activists organised a campaign in his defence.
The campaign to reinstate him won widespread support. Defending the right to criticise Israel was at the heart of it.
As more councils adopt the IHRA definition, Paul’s victory is an example of how to resist attempts to clamp down on solidarity with Palestine.