Anti-Semitism Masked as Anti-Zionism
When criticism of Israel crosses the line
A particularly insidious form of anti-Semitism disguises itself as animus toward Israel. Over a decade ago, the European Monitoring Centre (EUMC) issued a Working Definition of Anti-Semitism that offered several examples of anti-Israel rhetoric that went beyond simple criticism of the country’s policies and crossed the line into demonization, such as declaring Israel a racist state, holding it to higher standards than are applied to any other nation, or drawing analogies between Israel and the Nazi regime. It noted that Jewish communities were frequently conflated with Israel, and therefore targeted for attack.
Anti-Israel demonstrations in Europe have on occasion turned anti-Semitic and even violent, endangering Jewish lives and property, and in a number of cases police and prosecutors have been slow to respond to such obvious hate crimes.
On some American college campuses, anti-Israel events have been accompanied by age-old anti-Semitic slurs, creating a hostile environment for Jewish students, leaving them feeling isolated, and even threatening their physical safety.
AJC helped develop the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism. It has since been put to use by the U.S. State Department in its monitoring efforts; adopted by the governments of the UK, Austria, and Romania; endorsed by the 31-nation International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA); and recommended by a resolution of the European Parliament. Such use by governments and other international bodies—especially in the training of police, prosecutors, and judges—can clarify and give direction to the fight against anti-Semitism.
We continue to press individual governments to use the Working Definition and seek endorsement by the 57 participating states that constitute the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which came close to doing so last year. We have also supported proposed legislation in the U.S. Congress that calls on the U.S. Department of Education to make use of the Definition when assessing the presence of anti-Semitism on the nation’s campuses.