What the Biden Administration’s Campaign against Anti-Semitism Lacks

Last week, the White House—to its credit—released a 60-page strategy for combatting anti-Semitism, a step unlike anything undertaken by previous administrations. But the document studiously avoids adopting the standard guidelines for identifying anti-Semitism endorsed by the Antidefamation League, the World Jewish Congress, and other mainstream Jewish organizations. The editors of the New York Sun comment:

The administration feints at moral clarity, acknowledging that the “most prominent” definition of anti-Semitism is the one adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. (IHRA), which the United States has “embraced.” The government of Germany, for crying out loud, has endorsed it. For America, though, it is a grudging first among equals. It’s given hardly a ringing, or any, endorsement. That’s a dodge. The issue, of course, is Israel.

The IHRA labels as anti-Semitic “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination” by “claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor” and “applying double standards” to the Jewish state by “requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.” It recognizes that anti-Semitism is an inherent feature, not a bug, of anti-Zionism. The Jewish state and the state of the Jews are intertwined.

But the White House document goes on to state that it “welcomes and appreciates” the rival definition of anti-Semitism known as the Nexus Document, which takes pains to defend hatred of Israel.

[I]f Nexus is true on its face then the IHRA definition can’t be true—and vice versa. So by letting Nexus through the door, President Biden negates the first endorsement and makes kosher a range of the attacks on Israel from the left. . . . With friends of the Nexus approach numbering the [Hamas-linked] Council on American-Islamic Relations—they are acknowledged by the administration in an accompanying “fact sheet” that lists those who contributed to its efforts—who needs enemies?

One sage with whom we spoke, Ruth Wisse, makes the point that it’s not all that complicated. She calls the administration’s strategy an “attempt to misdirect anti-Semitism so that you are justified in not dealing with it” and an example of “fighting yesterday’s war” at a time when anti-Zionism is the “great unifier” among those hostile to Jews. “Iran intends to destroy the state of Israel,” she observes. “What are we talking about?”

Read more at New York Sun

More about: Anti-Semitism, IHRA, Israel on campus, Joseph Biden, Ruth Wisse

The ICJ’s Vice-President Explains What’s Wrong with Its Recent Ruling against Israel

It should be obvious to anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of the Gaza war that Israel is not committing genocide there, or anything even remotely akin to it. In response to such spurious accusations, it’s often best to focus on the mockery they make of international law itself, or on how Israel can most effectively combat them. Still, it is also worth stopping to consider the legal case on its own terms. No one has done this quite so effectively, to my knowledge, as the Ugandan jurist Julia Sebutinde, who is the vice-president of the ICJ and the only one of its judges to rule unequivocally in Israel’s favor both in this case and in the previous one where it found accusations of genocide “plausible.”

Sebutinde begins by questioning the appropriateness of the court ruling on this issue at all:

Once again, South Africa has invited the Court to micromanage the conduct of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Such hostilities are exclusively governed by the laws of war (international humanitarian law) and international human-rights law, areas where the Court lacks jurisdiction in this case.

The Court should also avoid trying to enforce its own orders. . . . Is the Court going to reaffirm its earlier provisional measures every time a party runs to it with allegations of a breach of its provisional measures? I should think not.

Sebutinde also emphasizes the absurdity of hearing this case after Israel has taken “multiple concrete actions” to alleviate the suffering of Gazan civilians since the ICJ’s last ruling. In fact, she points out, “the evidence actually shows a gradual improvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza since the Court’s order.” She brings much evidence in support of these points.

She concludes her dissent by highlighting the procedural irregularities of the case, including a complete failure to respect the basic rights of the accused:

I find it necessary to note my serious concerns regarding the manner in which South Africa’s request and incidental oral hearings were managed by the Court, resulting in Israel not having sufficient time to file its written observations on the request. In my view, the Court should have consented to Israel’s request to postpone the oral hearings to the following week to allow for Israel to have sufficient time to fully respond to South Africa’s request and engage counsel. Regrettably, as a result of the exceptionally abbreviated timeframe for the hearings, Israel could not be represented by its chosen counsel, who were unavailable on the dates scheduled by the Court.

It is also regrettable that Israel was required to respond to a question posed by a member of the Court over the Jewish Sabbath. The Court’s decisions in this respect bear upon the procedural equality between the parties and the good administration of justice by the Court.

Read more at International Court of Justice

More about: Gaza War 2023, ICC, International Law