Today, we face yet another attempt to delegitimize the lived experience of Jews in the form of a call to dismantle the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism (IHRA). The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (JDA) is a new proposed definition, which claims that anti-Zionism is not necessarily antisemitism. Anti-Zionism is antisemitism, as the IHRA definition clearly states, and any argument to the contrary is meant to protect antisemites and ensure they are able to continue their malicious agenda against Jews.
The JDA has been put forth by a group of anti-Israel intellectuals in an attempt to undermine wide reaching global support of the IHRA definition of antisemitism – which has been adopted by the governments of at least 28 countries. Anti-Israel activists know their biggest problem is being called out for their antisemitism, so they are trying to change the rules. These efforts are ridiculous and transparent. The preamble of the JDA specifically states:
“So, for example, hostility to Israel could be an expression of an antisemitic animus, or it could be a reaction to a human rights violation, or it could be the emotion that a Palestinian person feels on account of their experience at the hands of the State. In short, judgement and sensitivity are needed in applying these guidelines to concrete situations.”
This is highly problematic. It tries to muddy the waters and create ambiguity over what constitutes antisemitism. This would only make it easier for antisemites to spread hate without facing the consequences that should go along with that. The reason IHRA is so widely accepted is because it details and represents the lived experience of Jews who have been discriminated against in order to provide clarity for governments and institutions so they can take appreciative actions to protect the Jewish community. The JDA completely ignores one of the most prevalent forms of modern antisemitism which is to attack Jews in the name of attacking Israel.
Support for the JDA is rooted in antisemitism. One of the main sponsors of this petition is Richard Falk, a devoted anti-Semite. Falk has been officially denounced by the United Kingdom on THREE separate occasions for antisemitism. He has praised the protocols of the Elders of Zion and antisemitic cartoons and has described Jews as Nazis – and ironic and deeply offensive comparison. If that doesn’t convince you that the JDA is illegitimate, Falk once said “I don’t agree with the tactics of killing civilians and terrorist tactics. Of course, the armed settlers are an ambiguous category…”. We cannot allow this petition to advance farther than it already has. It is clear that those who aim to implement this definition do not care about the wellbeing of the Jewish people, as they have perpetuated antisemitism themselves.
The JDA has already started to impact campus activities. Student groups like Students for Justice in Palestine and Penn Against the Occupation have started to call for the rejection of IHRA to silence pro-Israel and Jewish students. The only goal of this effort is to counter the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism with one that would safeguard antisemites and fail to protect the Jewish community. The petition also states that in order for Jews to protect themselves they must ally with explicit enemies of Israel. The JDA petition is rife with contradiction and clear bigotry.
There is a reason that the IHRA working definition of antisemitism has been accepted worldwide. Don’t let this petition fool you. It only serves to gaslight Jews and undermine the IHRA definition of antisemitism, while protecting antisemites and those who wish to delegitimize Israel.