Sunday, August 11, 2019

US redefines antisemitism in its own interests

The State Department of the USA has a guideline definition of antisemitism accompanied by several examples for additional clarity. A few days ago it added a further clarification example in direct and undisguised response to a recent motion by one of the so-called "Squad" of radical Democratic representatives.
A few weeks ago, Democratic representative Ilhan Omar introduced a resolution, co-sponsored by Rashida Tlaib and John Lewis, supporting the right to boycott Israel known as BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction), a movement that looks to end international support for Israel's illegal occupation of parts of Palestine and its oppression of the Palestinian people. As part of her motion, she compared the BDS movement to previous boycotts of Nazi Germany, among others. In the end, an opposing Republican motion rejecting the BDS campaign was overwhelmingly passed by a large majority from both sides of the house.
Note that Ms. Tlaib did not actually compare Israel with Nazi Germany, but that is how many outraged pro-Israel member of Congress are portraying it. In response, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has added an additional example to the official State Department definition of antisemitism which says that "drawing comparisons of contemporary Israel policy to that of the Nazis" is another example of antisemitism (you can see the State Department definition and the full list of examples here).

  1. Personally, I see this as a conflation of the state of Israel with Jews as a race or a religious group. I'm not convinced that this example actually has anything to do with discrimination against the semitic race (although, as I have argued before, the whole idea of a semitic "race" is problematic anyway).

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