Anti-Zionism as a Form of Antisemitism
When criticism of Israel crosses the line
A particularly insidious form of antisemitism disguises itself as animus toward Israel. Over a decade ago, the European Monitoring Centre (EUMC) issued a Working Definition of Antisemitism 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 antisemitic 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 antisemitic 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 Antisemitism. It has since been adopted by over thirty countries across the world; the U.S Departments of State and Education; and by dozens of municipal councils across the country. 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 antisemitism.
We continue to press governments at all levels—from municipal councils to national governments—in the U.S. and around the world to use the Working Definition and encourage its endorsement by multigovernmental organizations, such as the OAS.
During and following the Hamas-incited flare-up in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in May 2021, antisemitic incidents surged in the United States and around the world. Anti-Israel statements and actions that evoke antisemitic themes must be recognized and condemned.