Delay of antisemitism envoy has people asking: “What is antisemitism?”

Defining antisemitism is much more complicated than the dictionary's simple explanation.
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With the holdup of the confirmation of the United States Antisemitism Envoy back in the news, people are searching for what the actual definition of antisemitism is.

Defining antisemitism is much more complicated than the dictionary’s simple explanation. That’s because antisemitism is more than just “hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group.”

International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Definition

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Definition of antisemitism, or IHRA, has been adopted by 35 countries, at least a dozen American states, the European Union Parliament and more than 1,000 organizations and universities worldwide. It was formally endorsed by the government of Israel in 2017.

According to the IHRA definition, “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews,” and includes “rhetorical and physical manifestations…directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

In the United States, the IHRA definition has received bipartisan support: The Biden administration stated that it “enthusiastically embraces” the definition, and former President Donald Trump issued an executive order instructing all U.S. executive agencies to consider the IHRA when determining antisemitism. The administrations of former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush also used the definition as guidance.

Examples of antisemitic acts

According to the IHRA the following examples are antisemitic:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
  • Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
  • 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.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

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