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The Biden administration’s anti-antisemitism travesty

The IHRA definition has led defenders of the Jewish people down a blind alley.

The White House in Washington, D.C. Credit: LapaiIr Krapai/Shutterstock.
The White House in Washington, D.C. Credit: LapaiIr Krapai/Shutterstock.
Melanie Phillips
Melanie Phillips
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for The Times of London, her personal and political memoir, Guardian Angel, has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, The Legacy, in 2018. To access her work, go to: melaniephillips.substack.com.

What’s the use of the definition of antisemitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance?

The Biden administration’s U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, which was published last week, has drawn outrage from those Jewish groups and commentators who unequivocally back Israel and defend the Jewish people against its enemies.

Their central charge against this strategy is that it has watered down the widely adopted IHRA working definition of antisemitism.

Examples suggested under this definition include denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination by claiming that the State of Israel is a “racist endeavor”; applying double standards by requiring of Israel behavior not expected or demanded of any other nation; comparing Israeli policy to that of the Nazis; and “holding Jews collectively responsible” for Israel’s actions.

The left opposes this definition because it encompasses the demonization of Israel, a key plank of leftist discourse.

Rather than upholding the IHRA as the gold standard, the Biden strategy document says it is one of several definitions of antisemitism. Others are the Jerusalem Definition and the Nexus document produced by the University of California, which the Biden initiative “welcomes and includes.”

These alternative definitions, however, were drafted to counter the IHRA by protecting those who demonize Zionism and Israel. They therefore don’t resist antisemitism but instead enable it. By endorsing them, the Biden administration is doing the same thing.

The IHRA definition, which has itself been criticized for being inadequate, is nevertheless assumed by many to be better than nothing in the struggle against epidemic Jew-hatred. Yet it has led defenders of the Jewish people down a blind alley.

The suggestion that if it were adopted it would stop the vilification of Israel misses the point. The problem of antisemitism doesn’t lie with a hitherto unclear and contested definition. The problem lies with those who bait Jews and demonize Israel. Those who refuse to sign up to the IHRA do so precisely because they want to continue to demonize Israel and bait Jews.

Even signing it doesn’t inoculate against this. The IHRA definition is actually endorsed by the U.S. State Department. Yet State is riddled by anti-Israel double standards, persistently holding Israel’s feet to the fire while sanitizing and even incentivizing Palestinian Arab incitement and terrorism.

The Biden administration cannot tackle the problem of antisemitism because the administration, its Democratic Party bosses and the progressive world to which they belong are themselves the problem.

The overwhelming bulk of contemporary Jew-hatred comes from Muslims, radical black activists and the left. The Democrats and the progressive world refuse to acknowledge this, insisting that antisemitism is overwhelmingly caused by the far-right and white supremacists.

The Biden strategy accordingly makes no mention of Muslim or black antisemitism, merely listing Muslims and black activists as fellow victims of white supremacist bigotry. While they are indeed such victims, they also make common cause with white supremacists when it comes to bigotry against Jews.

Instead of noting the unique features of antisemitism, the Biden document waters it down by lumping it together with other forms of bigotry. It includes in this “Islamophobia,” the label falsely applied to anyone who calls out the Muslim community for its Jew-hatred or any other misdeeds.

Thus siding with the Muslim enemies of the Jewish people and the West, the strategy’s authors even consulted the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a body that promotes anti-Zionism and hatred of Israel, and was an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2009 Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial.

In 2021, CAIR’s San Francisco director Zahra Billoo told American Muslims for Palestine that “Zionist organizations,” “Zionist synagogues” and Hillel student groups were “your enemies” who “would sell you down the line of they could and very often do behind your back.”

So instead of standing up against antisemitism, the Biden administration is helping empower antisemites.

Last month, Fatima Mousa Mohammed delivered a commencement speech for the law school at the City University of New York. It was a vicious and incendiary attack against Zionism, Israel and America consisting of lies, distortion and bigotry.

Mohammed, a Students for Justice in Palestine activist, said she wished that the “joy and rage” filling the auditorium would be “the fuel for the fight against capitalism, racism, imperialism and Zionism around the world.”

Right on cue, CAIR promptly applauded Mohammed’s address.

The nexus between antisemitism and Islam is a powerful contributor to the West’s tsunami of Jew-hatred. Yet progressives refuse to acknowledge this. Liberals in America, including liberal American Jews, refuse to protest at the antisemitism voiced by the Democratic Party “Squad” of U.S. congress members.

Last year, the Biden administration appointed Deborah Lipstadt as its special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism. Yet Lipstadt hailed the release of the Biden strategy as a “historic moment in the modern fight against what’s known as the world’s oldest hatred” by “laying out a clear plan to counter it.”

So it would seem that this special envoy post is as pointless and self-destructive as the strategy document itself.

In fact, antisemitism lies at the very heart of the Biden administration. This is because it has implemented the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) agenda into every government department and agency. But this agenda actively promotes antisemitism by implementing the doctrine of intersectionality, which holds that Jews are white oppressors and that Israel is a colonialist tyranny.

Last month, it emerged that Google’s head of diversity, Kamau Bob, had said in a 2007 blog post about the Israel-Palestinian Arab conflict that Jewish people had “an insatiable appetite for war and killing” and an “insensitivity” to suffering. Although Google has now removed Bob from his post (but hasn’t fired him), the remark was a graphic illustration of the symbiosis between Jew-hatred and the DEI agenda.

Kenneth L. Marcus, the founder and chairman of the Brandeis Centre for the Protection of Human Rights Under Law, has said that in the DEI programs, “we’re seeing anti-Jewish stereotypes, biases, defamations, separation of Jews from other groups and so-called ‘erasive antisemitism,’ which is to say denial of what it means to have a Jewish identity.”

Last December, a Heritage Foundation report showed that the private social-media accounts of DEI officers at university campuses displayed virulent feelings against Israel, compared to generally positive feelings towards the People’s Republic of China. The authors noted that 96% of the tweets about Israel were critical, while 62% of the tweets about China were favorable.

The word genocide was associated with Israel nine times, “ethnic cleansing” seven times, and the accusation that Israel specifically targeted children was made 27 times. The report observed that “DEI staff have an obsessive and irrational animus toward the Jewish state.”

DEI doctrine has redefined “hatred” to include mere offense, upset or insult. Yet it itself promotes hatred of Jews and Israel while also vilifying white people and Western civilization.

Shockingly, this agenda is promoted, supported and endorsed by liberal American Jews.

These Jews refuse to acknowledge the disproportionate part played in today’s antisemitism by Muslims and African-Americans. They refuse to condemn “the Squad.” They refuse to denounce Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam who embodies the nexus between black and Muslim antisemitism.

Instead, they smear anyone who does point out this nexus as Islamophobic or racist, while swooning over the Biden administration’s anti-antisemitism travesty.

Jewish community leaders in Britain similarly deny the reality of Muslim Jew-hatred and demonize those who point it out.

The doctrine of intersectionality has fueled Muslim antisemitism and helped advance the Islamist onslaught on the West, courtesy of liberal Jews.

The IHRA definition has merely given a new sheet of music to the orchestra on the Titanic to play as the ship goes down.

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