Anti-Semitism

29 Million ReasonsSpeech delivered by Yehuda Bauer during the dinner for the Fifth World Holocaust Forum, 22 Jan 2020

Anti-Semitism – hatred of the Jews – has a sordid history going back more than 2000 years, the most extreme case being the Holocaust – the Nazi genocide perpetrated during World War II.  The phenomenon has seen an alarming resurgence in the 2010s leading to legal and policy initiatives to combat it.  These efforts are increasingly addressed in public forums and the media.  What follows is focused on those legal and policy issues, and on the connection between anti-Semitism and anti-Israel activities.  

The Connection Between Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism

The Connection Between BDS and Anti-Semitism

  • “Behind the Mask – The Anti-Semitic Nature of BDS Exposed, September 2019.  A report by the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy
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  • “Combatting Antisemitism to Eliminate Discrimination and Intolerance Based on Religion or Belief,” 20 Sep 2019.  A report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed.  Paragraph 18 of the report addresses the connection between the BDS movement and anti-semitism.
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International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)

Stockholm Declaration
Working Definition of Anti-Semitism
Fact Sheet
EU Handbook for Practical Use of the Definition

The Working Definition includes the following references to Israel:

    • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
    • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
    • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
    • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
    • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
    • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
    • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

Countries, Provinces, Cities, etc., which have adopted or endorsed as policy the Working Definition of the IHRA  (Chronological List)

United States Department of State, in June 2010, adopted as policy a statement similar to the IHRA working definition.  This was updated in early August 2019, in the Department’s on-line definition of anti-semitism to include as an example, “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis”.

European Union

Organization of American States  – General-Secretariat

Council of Europe – European Commission against Racism and Intolerance

Some Non-governmental entities which have adopted the IHRA definition of anti-semitism:

Fiamma Nirenstein, Double Message, Double Standard: Institutions Abandoning the IHRA Definition of Anti‑Semitism, JCPA (2021)

Enactments

EU Resolution of 1 Jun 2017 on Combating Anti-Semitism:  The resolution, adopted in response to the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, calls on member states to engage in over a dozen measures to combat anti-semitism, including the adoption and application of the IHRA working definition and ensuring the security of the Jewish citizens of their countries.

Germany:  Resolution, approved by the Bundestag [German Parliament] on 15 May 2019, condemns BDS as anti-Semitic and urges the government not to fund or support groups or activities that question Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself, or which call for the boycott of Israel, or actively support the BDS-movement.

United States – Federal – Executive Order 13899:  Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq., prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance.  The Executive Order issued by President Donald Trump directs that it “… shall be the policy of the executive branch to enforce Title VI against prohibited forms of discrimination rooted in anti-Semitism …”  In pursuing “robust enforcement”, executive agencies and departments are to consider the working definition of anti-semitism of the IHRA.

United States – Florida:  Using the State Department definition as its template, the legislation defines as anti-Semitism calls for violence against Jews, advancing conspiracy theories about Jewish control, and Holocaust denial. It also includes “applying double standards” to Israel “by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”  The measure mandates that discrimination against Jewish people be treated the same as acts of racial discrimination in Florida’s public education institutions.  Approved by Governor on 31 May 2019.

United States – Iowa:  Adopts the IHRA definition of anti-semitism.  In reviewing, investigating alleged discriminatory acts, and in deciding whether or not they vviolate legal prohibitions, the law directs consideration of anti-Semitism in “determining whether the alleged act was motivated by discriminatory antisemitic intent.” Directs that the definition of anti-semitism be used in State personnel discrimination training.  Approved by Governor on 23 Mar 2022.

United States – South Carolina:  Adopts a uniform definition of anti-Semitism which universities must take into account when reviewing charges of discrimination or bias.  Signed by the Governor on 6 Jul 2018; sunsets after a year.  The identical provision was re-enacted for an additional year on 25 Jun 2019, in the 2019-2020 Appropriations Bill, H. 4000, Part 1B, Section 11 – H030 – Commission on Higher Education, Sec. 11.19.

Litigation

We here present information about only a few cases.  The Legal Network Initiative has a more extensive review of cases and documentation on its Case Law page.

United States

San Francisco State University.  Two lawsuits were filed by Jewish students alleging systematic anti-Semitism and discrimination; one in Federal District Court (2017) and the other in San Francisco Superior Court (2018).  The federal lawsuit was appealed after dismissal.  Both cases, after being intensely litigated were settled together in March 2018, with the university agreeing to undertake a series of actions to curb discrimination, including the expenditure of $200,000 to promote “viewpoint diversity”, and further agreeing to make a $36,000 contribution towards plaintiffs’ litigation expenses.

Mandel, et al. v. Bd. of Trustees of California State University, 17-cv-03511 (N.D. Cal., filed 19 Jun 2017).

Second Amended Complaint
District Court Order Dismissing Case
Settlement Agreement
Voluntary Dismissal in Court of Appeals

Volk and Kern v. Bd. of Trustees of California State University, CGC-18-563970 (Cal. Super. Ct., S.F. Co., filed 30 Jan 2018).

Complaint
Notice of Settlement and Dismissal

New York University.  A complaint was filed with the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education, alleging that the University discriminated against students of Jewish descent, on the basis of their national origin, by failing to respond appropriately to incidents that created a hostile environment for Jewish students at the University. On 29 Sep 2020, the university entered a Resolution Agreement with the Office of Civil Rights in which it agreed to undertake several steps to address the climate of discrimination and harassment.

United Kingdom, South Africa, and Australia

A number of cases are described and analyzed in the ILF report “Recognizing Anti-Zionist Antisemitism”, beginning on page 41.