Nexus of Antisemitism & Israel/Zionism
A new declaration aims to fight antisemitism without curtailing free speech (2021 Essay) – The Forward
Scholars Elissa Bemporad, Alon Confino, and Derek Penslar introduce the Jerusalem Declaration of Independence as a guide for combatting antisemitism and, simultaneously, protecting space for an open debate around all possibilities for the future for Israelis and Palestinians.
Guide by rabbinic human rights group providing context, language, and tools to help navigate the difficult terrain around antisemitism and help fight antisemitism, along with all other forms of racial, cultural, religious, and gender oppression.
Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism: A Debate between Michael Walzer and Joshua Leifer, Fall 2019 (Article/Essay), by Michael Walzer and Joshua Leifer
Michael Walzer, editor emeritus of Dissent magazine, states his concerns about left-wing anti-Zionism in the United States and Europe, and argues that criticizing the governments and policies of Israel should not involve opposition to the existence of the state itself. Walzer believes that the issue with anti-Zionism is anti-Zionism itself. Walzer is challenged by the associate editor of Dissent, Joshua Leifer, who presents a much different view. He argues that what Zionism has actually come to mean and symbolize is much different than the version Walzer describes, and defends those on the left who are committed to human rights for all. Leifer believes the on-the-ground political reality faced by Palestinians and the continuity of the Israeil government’s policies over time, paint a much different picture of Zionism.
Anti-Zionism Isn’t Anti-Semitism. Except When It Is., Jan. 22, 2020, (Article/Essay), by Andrew Silow-Carroll
The editor in chief of the NY Jewish Week, Andrew Silow-Carroll, challenges the argument that anti-Zionism is not inherently antisemitic by pointing to the emotional toll anti-Zionism takes on the Jewish population, the historical complexities of Jews and Israel, and the way in which anti-Zionism and anti-Israel sentiments are embraced in progressive politics.
Kenneth Stern cautions against drawing lines between anti-Zionism and antisemitism because the two often intersect and overlap in various ways. His essay recognizes that while disapproval of Israeli policies can sometimes manifest as antisemitism, legitimate criticisms of Zionism can exist without being inherently antisemitic.
Antisemitic Zionists such as Donald Trump support Israel while harboring antisemitic white nationalist beliefs in their own country. This article highlights the complexity and nuances within the Zionist movement, emphasizing the need to address instances of antisemitism within it.
Battle of Antisemitism Definitions Is Actually a Proxy War for Criticism of Israel (2021 Essay) – Religion Dispatches
The ongoing debate over defining antisemitism is driven by underlying political motivations related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The author suggests that different definitions of antisemitism are being used as tools to legitimize or delegitimize criticism of Israel, while they should focus solely on combating hatred against Jews.
Dana Milbank argues that the “Mapping Project” created by the Boston arm of the BDS movement promotes violence against Jewish institutions that recognize Israel.
Bret Stephens asserts that anti-Zionism is a form of antisemitism because it denies self-determination specifically for the Jewish people. He argues that anti-Zionism is “fashionable” antisemitism which hones in on Jewish statehood as an avenue for expressing hatred for Jews in general.
A social activist and sociology lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, David Hirsh discusses the kind of antisemitism that is tolerated in social spaces that think of themselves as antiracist and democratic. Hirsch addresses and analyzes how criticism of Israel can provide an avenue for antisemitism, the struggle to define antisemitism, and more.
Debate: Is anti-Zionism anti-Semitic? April 19, 2020 (Article/Essay), By Ari Hoffman and Joel Swanson
Contributing columnists at the Forward, Ari Hoffman and Joel Swanson, debate whether anti-Zionism is antisemitism. The writers exchange responses to each other’s perspective on issues surrounding Zionism, antisemitism, Israel, politics, and more, in both the historical and modern contexts.
Drawing the line between anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel, October 2019 (Survey), The Economist
A poll by the Economist looks at opinions on Jews and Israel in the United States and Britain, and shows that antisemitism and criticism of Israel are correlated, but the strength of the link depends on political ideology.
Peter Beinart asserts that antisemitism has been wielded as a weapon against the world’s most respected human rights organizations and a shield for some of the world’s most repressive regimes, arguing for a different struggle against antisemitism that embeds the cause of Jewish rights in a movement for the human rights of all.
Steve Sheffey discusses the challenges of defining antisemitism accurately and comprehensively. He cautions against government use of the IHRA definition, which was not originally intended to be used for legal purposes.
I drafted the definition of antisemitism. Rightwing Jews are weaponizing it (2019 Essay) – The Guardian
Kenneth Stern, the lead drafter of the IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism, expresses concerns over its weaponization by right-wing Jews to suppress legitimate criticism of Israel and their policies. He raises the need for a balanced approach that addresses both antisemitism and the rights of Palestinians without allowing the definition to be misused for political agendas.
IHRA is the non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in 2016. It holds that: “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.” IHRA also includes a number of examples that “taking into account the overall context” could serve as illustrations of antisemitism
Is B.D.S. Anti-Semitic? A Closer Look at the Boycott Israel Campaign, July 27, 2019 (Article/ Essay), By David M. Halbfinger, Michael Wines, and Steven Erlanger
In their article for the New York Times, Halbfinger, Wines, and Erlanger unpack some of the most difficult questions and issues surrounding the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement against Israel, focusing on U.S. and European involvement.
A personal perspective on whether criticizing Zionism is antisemitic, highlighting the distinction between legitimate criticism of Israeli policies and expressions of prejudice against Jewish people.
Overused accusations of antisemitism are preventing open and nuanced debates about Israeli policies and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
British Labor Party politician, Peter Hain, and policy analyst, Daniel Levy, call on the UK Labor Party to rid itself of antisemitism, be sensitive and informed about the broader Jewish community and its relationship to Israel, and simultaneously support critical conversation and debate about the treatment of Palestinians and Middle East peace processes. Hain and Levy offer critique, analysis, and calls to action for their party.
New antisemitism definition does not include most criticism of Israel or Zionism (2021 Article) – The Forward.
A new definition of antisemitism, drafted by the Nexus Task Force, outlines a distinction between fair criticism of Israeli policy and antisemitic arguments denying a Jewish right to self-determination.
Outrage over far-right Israeli government has American Jewish leaders stewing (2023 Article) – Religion News Service.
American Jewish leaders’ condemnation of the new Israeli administration’s far-right ideologies and policies has led to internal turmoil within the American Jewish community.
An open letter from 122 Palestinian and Arab academics, journalists, and intellectuals argues that the IHRA working definition, although intended to combat antisemitism, can be misused to stifle comprehensive evaluation of Israeli policies. They believe that there must be room for criticism of Israeli actions to ensure the struggle for Palestinian rights is not unjustly suppressed.
Prominent Jewish leaders add to drumbeat of criticism of Israel’s new government (2023 Article) – The Forward.
Prominent Jewish leaders express their concerns to the U.S. Congress regarding the policies and actions of the current Israeli government and caution against using false accusations of antisemitism to prevent legitimate criticism of Israel.
The Conflict Over the Conflict: The Israel/Palestine Campus Debate (New Jewish Press, an imprint of the University of Toronto) 2020 (Book), by Kenneth S. Stern
In this book, attorney, author, and director of the Bard Center for the Study of Hate, Kenneth Stern breaks down and chronicles one of the most divisive and toxic issues on today’s college and university campuses: Israel/Palestine. Stern examines the discourse and its function on college campuses to address the questions of how we got here and what can be done.
The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and why people are fighting over it, explained (2021 Article) – Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
This article explains how the IHRA working definition of antisemitism went from a helpful guide to an instrument of division. It highlights how concerns regarding free speech, criticism of Israeli policies, and the impact on Palestinian rights contribute to ongoing contentious debates.
A tool to identify, confront and raise awareness about antisemitism as it manifests in countries around the world today, developed by a group of scholars in the fields of Holocaust history, Jewish studies, and Middle East studies to meet what has become a growing challenge: providing clear guidance to identify and fight antisemitism.
The British head of policy at Community Security Trust, Dave Rich, examines the antisemitism plaguing left-wing British politics. The book focuses on academic research into the origins of left-wing antisemitism, observations of political extremism and contemporary hostility to Israel, Jeremy Corbyn’s election, and political activism.
Right-wing and left-wing antisemitism manifest differently in their motivations, targets, and ideologies. By oversimplifying the issue, one risks undermining efforts to understand and respond effectively to the distinct challenges posed by each side.
Thirty-nine words about antisemitism are splitting the Jewish community (2021 Article) – The Forward.
Differing interpretations of the IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism lead to disagreements within the Jewish community surrounding free speech, the criticism of Israel, and the consideration of Palestinian rights.
Greater clarity and accuracy are needed for defining and addressing antisemitism. Codifying IHRA would be a step in the wrong direction.
Activists should respect Israel’s rights as a sovereign state. But Israel should respect Palestinians’ rights under universal human rights and humanitarian law. Israel is the most important of all the states in the Palestinian crisis.