In a hugely significant development for free speech on Palestine, eminent human rights lawyer Hugh Tomlinson QC has issued a legal opinion that finds major faults with the government’s new antisemitism definition’s guidance.
In partnership with Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Independent Jewish Voices and Free Speech on Israel, we launched his legal opinion in the House of Lords this week.
The opinion criticises the guidance that accompanies the definition which conflates criticism of Israel with antisemitism.
The guidance cannot be used lawfully to ban events critical of Israel – including in universities. This includes events describing Israel as a state enacting policies of apartheid or practising settler-colonialism.
Tomlinson states: “the starting point should be that events which seek to protest against the actions of the state of Israel or the treatment of Palestinians are lawful expressions of political opinion. There is no justification in law for treating such events any differently from any other political protests.”
But we’re not stopping there. We are sending this opinion to every public body in the UK – including universities – to ensure that they realise that it is illegal to cancel an event on the grounds that it criticises Israel.