update deskSchools & Higher Education

Prominent legal blog: Anti-IHRA statement from 1,000 Jewish professors ‘bizarre, ultimately dishonest’

“If one had hoped an academic letter would be more reality-based, one would be disappointed,” David Bernstein wrote on the Volokh Conspiracy.

Stock illustration of a gavel. Credit: Pixabay.
Stock illustration of a gavel. Credit: Pixabay.

A statement signed by more than 1,000 Jewish professors denouncing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)’s working definition of antisemitism for “conflating antisemitism with legitimate criticism of Israel” is “bizarre and ultimately dishonest,” David Bernstein wrote on the popular legal blog The Volokh Conspiracy.

Bernstein, a university professor at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School and executive director of its Liberty and Law Center, wrote that much of the opposition to the Antisemitism Awareness Act over its codification of the IHRA definition “has been hysterical and counterfactual.”

“If one had hoped an academic letter would be more reality-based, one would be disappointed,” he wrote.

The 1,000-plus faculty members say that the IHRA definition considers criticism of Israel to be necessarily antisemitic.

“The IHRA definition of antisemitism, however, never says that criticism of Israel, etc., is ‘in and of itself’ antisemitic. Indeed, it specifically says ‘criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic,’” Bernstein writes.

“Not only have Jewish critics of Israel, indeed Jews who don’t think Israel should exist, not been silenced, it seems like they never shut up,” he added. “The latter group is a tiny fringe of the Jewish community, but they appear disproportionately in both mainstream and social media.”

Bernstein added that he expects “very little from the academy these days,” so he’s not surprised to see so many signatories of “this (at best) hyperbolic letter.”

“I am at least a little disappointed to see some prominent law professors on the list,” he added. “But maybe I should reduce my expectations of the legal academy, too.”

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