Anne Bayefsky
International human rights lawyer
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‘Not-antisemitism antisemitism’: The Pillay Inquiry and the UN’s newest ruse

The Human Rights Council is poised to hear results of an inquiry that will claim Jews have 'reframed antisemitism'
United Nations Commission of Inquiry. Chris Sidoti (left), Chair Navi Pillay (center), Miloon Kothari (right) (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

There is a wildly popular game now blowing up around the world: not-antisemitism antisemitism.

The sport is coming to the United Nations “Human Rights” Council arena on June 20, 2023. That’s when a “Commission of Inquiry,” whose members are not Jews, will present its latest report objecting to Jews having “reframed antisemitism” to include any criticism of Israel. (Said no one ever.)

Not-antisemitism antisemitism, popularized by the United Nations and its partners, concocts a series of escape hatches to avoid getting found out to be practitioners of antisemitism. Starting with the definition.

Defining antisemitism in whichever way avoids its application to actual antisemites and their actual antisemitism is a very old strategy. Human rights abusers don’t admit their wrongs. They assert their “rights.” Antisemites don’t label themselves as such. They’re fighting crime, theft, fraud, occupiers, colonialists, racists, bad guys.

The not-an-antisemite antisemite begins the performance with the art of self-righteous indignation. Like Navi Pillay, the Chair of the current “inquiry” and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Pillay has a long verifiable record of discrimination against, and demonization of, the Jewish state. Among other things, she was a key figure in promoting the racist “anti-racist” UN Durban conference and the blood libel in the UN’s infamous Goldstone report. Simultaneously, she has been heard repeatedly wailing at UN events over the past year: “I’m 81 years old, and this is the first time I’ve been accused of antisemitism!” Which is patently false.

After the taking offense routine, not-antisemitism antisemitism assumes a variety of forms.

There’s an alleged entitlement to define antisemitism for Jews – notwithstanding the oft-repeated declaration that human rights victims should be empowered to define their own lived experiences. Human Rights Watch is a devotee of this move, setting itself up as an authority on what constitutes antisemitism and filling the airwaves with pronouncements like “There is nothing antisemitic about…”

Similarly, there’s the silencing of the voices of Jewish victims of antisemitism, immediately followed by the claim that human rights protection begins with elevating and hearing the voices of the victims of human rights abuse. A fan favorite with Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the UN human rights system.

There’s the objection that those who complain of antisemitism are attempting to “silence” the voices espousing antisemitism. (Which is kind of the point of combating antisemitism.) Put another way, there’s a demand to steer clear of calling out antisemitism because “accusations of antisemitism…can shut down dialogue.”

There’s the move to belittle or mock the victims of antisemitism. Take UN “inquiry” member Chris Sidoti and his rant that “accusations of antisemitism are thrown around like rice at a wedding.”

There’s the old classic of using human Jewish props – Jew-on-Jew action – for the world’s entertainment – to push not-antisemitism antisemitism. Like the list of Jews peddling the “Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism” which supports a “unitary democratic state” replacing the world’s only Jewish democratic state – in the name of “equality.”  Or the “Nexus Task Force” who hawk a “relevant” definition that excludes “opposition to Zionism” and “paying disproportionate attention to Israel and treating Israel differently than other countries.”

Then there are the many genres of projection.

From the highly coordinated attacks of Palestinian officials working together with UN “experts” and NGO “human rights” comrades come allegations that antisemitism criticism is the product of a nefarious “coordinated assault.”

From characters without integrity who promote antisemitism come complaints that they are the object of “character assassination.”

From the political operations of the opponents of Arab-Israeli negotiations come protests that pointing out antisemitism is a “politically-motivated attack.”

From the consummate masters of blaming Israel for every Palestinian abomination, from harming Jews to harming each other, come claims that charges of antisemitism are “always raised as a diversion.”

For the love of dead Jews

Then there’s the crowd that trots out never-again Holocaust associations as evidence of never being an antisemite. Also known as: people love dead Jews, not the victims of antisemitism who are still with us.

There’s the warped idea that Israel-bashing and antisemitism are inversely connected because when Israel fights back against Palestinian Arab antisemitism it results in more antisemitism worldwide. Actually, antisemitism directed at Israel leads to more antisemitism directed everywhere.

There’s the not-antisemitism of the left because antisemitism is on the right. Or vice-versa. When antisemitism is an itinerant opportunistic pathogen.

There’s the not-antisemitism pitched as the virtuous universality of human rights in opposition to some insular Jew-specific human right. When there’s nothing virtuous about a universal that doesn’t have room for Jews and the Jewish state.

There’s the not-antisemitism that’s been styled as entertainment and aptly labeled “performative Jew-hatred.” It’s when people with big followings, big mouths, and small brains think antisemitism is cool.

There’s the boilerplate psychosis that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism. That’s the reasoning that goes like this: For the sake of equality and democracy, there is self-determination and statehood for Palestinian Arabs and not for Jews. Or there should be 23 Arab states, 57 Muslim states, and zero Jewish states.

There are also those who opine that anti-Zionism is not-antisemitism because Judaism can be disconnected from Israel. That’s straight from the non-Jewish authorities on Judaism. The biblical dilettantes. The pseudo-scholars. The identity hackers.

There’s the not-antisemitism that comes from redefining Zionism to mean Jewish “ethnic cleansing” of Arabs. Despite History 101. Arabs failed to transport and to win Hitler’s war against the Jews in then-Palestine; failed in their post-1947 wars to ethnically cleanse Israel of Jews; successfully cleansed Arab states of their Jews; and magnified their 1948 numbers to five million – a five-fold increase – in the “ethnically-cleansed” “State of Palestine.”

Along the same vein, there’s the not-antisemitism that (re)defines Zionists as exclusionary and hideously discriminatory. Regardless of the fact that Arabs have more democratic rights in the Jewish state than in any Arab state.

There’s also the mindmeld between not-antisemitism and no-Holocaust perverts. Like the cartoonist in the Iranian Holocaust-denial contest that depicted a “Palestinian man wearing a Nazi concentration camp uniform,” and when accused of antisemitism explained: “I’m affirming the Holocaust with that illustration.” Israel is committing a Holocaust against Palestinians, Zionism is Nazism, Holocaust revisionism is not-antisemitism, and the moon is made of blue-and-white cheese.

When we’ve finally wrapped our heads around the fact that antisemites specialize in not-antisemitism antisemitism, we can return to confronting today’s crescendo of Jew-hatred. Which requires recognizing that the global maestro is the United Nations, accompanied on the heartstrings by human rights phonies.

About the Author
Professor Anne Bayefsky is the President of Human Rights Voices and the Director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust.
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