On May 25, the Biden administration issued a 60-page document outlining its plans for protecting U.S. Jews from bigotry. Alex Joffe and Asaf Romirowsky find some of its particulars salutary, but argue that it is overall ineffective, or worse:
[M]ost of the recommendations are simply the government telling itself to mention anti-Semitism in the course of routine training and other activities. . . . Looking beyond the budget increase for the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, many of the strategy’s directives are unserious. Directing the Department of Agriculture to “provide educational opportunities for 4-H, Future Farmers of America, and other rural youth organizations to learn how to identify and counter anti-Semitism and related forms of discrimination,” or the Interior Department to train “National Park Services employees, such as rangers and guides, to identify and counter anti-Semitism and other forms of hate,” do not even attempt to address the core problems.
Indeed, most recommendations are not specific to anti-Semitism but are directed rather against “all forms of hate,” including “anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim bias, anti-Sikh bias, and related forms of bias and discrimination.” . . . Islamophobia is mentioned numerous times, but no reference is made to Israel boycotts, much less to Islamist . . . violence against Jews.
Worse still, the strategy mentions, but carefully avoids endorsing, the important and widely accepted guidelines for identifying anti-Semitism developed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)—which is probably what won the strategy praise from such groups as Palestine Legal (aligned with the boycott-Israel movement) and the Hamas-affiliated Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Therein, write Joffe and Romirowsky, lies the real problem:
Organizations such as states and universities that have put the [IHRA] definition at the center of their efforts to protect Jewish students will now see that move challenged on the basis of the federal strategy’s deliberate vagueness. The Biden administration has, in other words, harmed others’ attempts to fight anti-Semitism as well.