Naomi Frankel

Why IHRA isn’t even good enough

Credit: Jewish Insider, May 25th

The IHRA definition of antisemitism has Jew haters hot under the collar.

How dare we be held accountable for our racism they are secretly (or not so secretly) seething.

The latest version of the Biden administration’s antisemitism strategy, which was released Thursday, features both the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism as well as an alternative definition, according to The New York Times.

Since 2016, the non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism as adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) as:

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Ironically, as it stands, it’s not the best tool in our arsenal against Jew haters of all political persuasions.

The IHRA urgently needs amending and here’s why:

What we all need to understand first and foremost is that every conspiracy theory and slur is code for “it’s moral to kill Jews.”  It’s always spoken in code because thats what gives it the illusion of social acceptability. The lie that killing us is a moral and just liberation struggle.

Credit: The Canadian Jewish News
Credit: Stop Antisemitism

The reason activism against antisemitism often fails is it focuses on debunking the words of antisemitism not the intent. Compare to any other group’s activism where the language cuts past the BS and explicitly diagnoses and opposes the intention of the racism.

The term antisemitism itself was invented by a Jew hater to make anti Jewish bigotry harder to talk about.  The official definition as it stands right now shows the deception was so effective it confused the collective minds of its target. It makes it sound like we are upset  because our detractors don’t like us. As if it was ever about just our feelings.

The result is rarely do pro Jew much less pro Israel advocates convince anyone because we bungle the message. Within the Jewish community’s own discourse the point is stubbornly and infuriatingly  missed.

Part of the reason antisemitism is so persistent is the world’s two most populous religions teach it is a holy moral duty to kill, convert or erase Jews.

The entire Christian Bible is meant as a remedy to what it codes as Jewish moral deficiency.  The Christian ideas of Jews being all-corrupting money obsessed killers of all that is holy is the foundation of all western conspiracy theories and has infected secular discourse since day one.

It dovetails nicely with left wing anti capitalist and anti colonial ideas and fermented with the KGB’s invention of liberation theology.

With Islam, the hate is because we refuse to convert and also because it sees itself as the highest evolution of world religions with the Jews at the bottom of that hierarchy. The Hamas Charter quotes the most explicit passages on the subject.

Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The intention is always the same.  The message is always the same. “It’s moral to kill Jews.”

And it never kills only Jews. If anyone really cared about ending racism they’d be opposed to antisemitism too. If they really cared about vanquishing the systems that oppress everyone they’d understand that antisemitism is a clever misdirection by those parties so folks will obsess over murdering us instead of doing anything that would actually improve the world.

Or re Israel, by proxy. If anyone really cared about the Palestinians or anyone else they’d care about how the Palestinian leadership kills, abuses and steals from their people and how almost every nation on earth finances that scam.

If it was ever really about opposing colonialism, folks would openly oppose Arab and Islamic imperialism too. The presence of Arabs outside of the Arabian peninsula is the result of that and its victims include the Kurds, Yazedis, Amazigh, Tuareg, Copts and so on.  If you don’t believe me then ask those communities yourself.

In fact, Israel is the most successful anti colonial project in recorded history and real “land back” would mean every single oppressed people would get an Israel, from that region to north and South America to the natives of what is now Japan and so on.

And it would demand folks acknowledge exactly how Arabs known as ‘Palestinians’ even ended up in what is now Israel, starting with why a mosque is built on top of one of the holiest sites in all of Judaism.

But very few really want that. Most people aren’t even anti racists. They just want license to kill Jews.  They want license to hold onto prejudices. To kill.  They’ve been misdirected by institutions they think even give a damn about them.

Antisemitism makes the oppressors harder to oppose.  The oppressors want folks fighting each other not them.  My experience dealing with antisemites over the last few years is most of them can’t be swayed because they aren’t deceived in fact.  They use the misdirection themselves so that they can have careers rather than face the social cost of being openly racist.

And all the haters talk of Israel is a misdirection.  Their antisemitism centers on the notion it’s moral to genocide Jews because of Israel, starting with the ones living there.

Israeli human rights violations aren’t even what this is about because all the noise about them always boils down to “it’s moral to kill you” and nobody not even the Palestinians in the West, or none we usually hear about, seem to say anything at all when non Israelis in the region kill their people. It was never about human rights.  If anyone outside the pro Israel community really gave a damn about targeting of civilians they’d care when Palestinians target Israeli civilians.  But they don’t. They either deny it or cheer it on. Just like outside of the region when anyone hate crimes Jews the people who actually care outside of the Jewish bubble are few.  The fans of the perpetrators are many.  The media minimizes it.

It was never about human rights or war crimes or racism.

What it really comes down to is folks are enraged we aren’t all dead yet and it isn’t just killing Jews.

About the Author
Naomi is a freelance writer and Jewish/Israel activist. Keep up with her on Instagram and Tiktok: @partisanprincess
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