Biden weaponizes anti-Semitism to smother criticism of Israel

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February 04, 2021
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February 4, 2021 | AMPalestine.org | Washington, DC -- On Monday, February 1, the Biden administration announced that it “embraces and champions” the so-called International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, according to a State Department official. American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) opposes all forms of racism and bigotry, including anti-Semitism. The continued violent existence of anti-Semitism was exemplified most recently in the Nazi garb worn at the Capitol Hill insurrection.

While staunchly opposing anti-Semitism, AMP joins in the wide criticism of the IHRA definition including that of the definition’s original author who opposes its application in US policy. 

The IHRA definition is dangerous because many of its examples conflate anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel in a way designed to chill the freedom of expression to criticize policies of the Israeli government. 

Many problematic examples are mentioned in this definition, including, “Manifestations [of anti-Semitism] might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.”

Such broad and vague language can be misused to deter any criticism of Israel and its crimes as a state, and therefore stigmatizes freedom of expression regarding Israeli policies.

Another example mentioned was “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

This example equates anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of racist Israeli policies under which Palestinians are subjected to a separate-and-unequal regime.

Dr. Osama Abuirshaid, Executive Director of American Muslims for Palestine, said, “The IHRA definition and examples of anti-Semitism are vague and its implications are not clearly defined. This ambiguity will undoubtedly censor activists for Palestine and Palestinian rights, and outspoken critics of Israel and Israeli policy. For example, based on this definition, speaking out against Israel’s “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People” could be considered a form of anti-Semitism. This law was passed in 2018 by the Israeli Knesset specifying the nature of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, effectively severely undermining the rights of 20% of Israel’s citizens who are Palestinian. This law was widely condemned by the international community, including by major Jewish American organizations."

The IHRA definition lays the groundwork for dangerous infringements upon the right to freedom of speech and expression, and the right to organize. AMP strongly condemns this definition as inaccurate, threatening, and a political tactic to weaponize anti-Semitism to silence critique of Israeli policy and US support of it.

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AMP educates the US public and media on issues related to Palestine. You can learn more about our work at www.AMPalestine.org. For more information, or to schedule an interview with an AMP spokesperson, please contact AMP’s Media Coordinator, Malak Shalabi, at [email protected] or  +1 (888) AMP-1948.