Why a “Working Definition” of Anti-Semitism Has Prompted Such Fury from Those Who Claim Not to Be Anti-Semites

In 1998, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)—a European-based organization that has the formal backing of a few dozen countries, including the U.S. and Israel—composed a “working definition of anti-Semitism,” so that Jews would have some formal standard to appeal to when faced with the various deflections and dodges employed by those who hate them. Recently, as the definition has gained the endorsements of government agencies, universities, and other institutions, it has become the subject of controversy. Gerald Steinberg looks at the forces behind the opposition to the IHRA definition:

Like so much of the discourse on Israel, the Jewish people. and anti-Semitism, the IHRA debate has become entangled in fierce ideological wars and the accompanying symbolic politics. Joining the campaign under the banner of “progressive values,” influential groups that frequently critique Israel—including J Street, the New Israel Fund, and American Friends of Peace Now—claim that the “codification of the IHRA working definition,” specifically its “contemporary examples,” create the potential for misuse to “suppress legitimate free speech,” and prevent “criticism of Israeli government actions.”

In reality, there is no such misuse—there is plenty of room to criticize Israeli policies without resorting to discriminatory boycotts, comparing the IDF to the Nazis, or labeling the Jewish state as inherently racist, [that is, without coming close to meeting the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism].

Amidst the mudslinging, the core issues of anti-Semitism and the escalating attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions are marginalized and even forgotten. . . . By politicizing and undermining this consensus, the counter-IHRA campaign is opening the door for even more violence targeting Israeli and Jewish institutions.

In the United States, it is important that Biden administration officials give serious attention to the fights against anti-Semitism and implement the IHRA working definition. Samantha Power, who has been designated by Biden to head the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and will preside over a massive increase in funding for NGOs, should follow the EU’s lead and ensure that any group that promotes anti-Semitism will be ineligible for American government funding.

Read more at Jewish Journal

More about: Anti-Semitism, J Street, New Israel Fund, Samantha Power

Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University