29 Million Reasons – Speech 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 BDS and Anti-Semitism
“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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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.
United Kingdom (12 Dec 2016)
Israel (22 Jan 2017)
Austria (25 Apr 2017)
Romania (25 May 2017)
City of London (8 Feb 2017)
Scotland (13 Jun 2017)
Welsh Government (23 Jun 2017)
Germany (20 Sep 2017)
Bulgaria (18 Oct 2017)
Lithuania (24 Jan 2018)
Sweden (27 Jan 2018)
Republic of North Macedonia (6 Mar 2018)
Netherlands (27 Nov 2018)
Slovakia (28 Nov 2018)
Belgium (14 Dec 2018)
Slovenia (20 Dec 2018)
Republic of Moldova (18 Jan 2019)
Czech Republic (25 Jan 2019)
Hungary (18 Feb 2019)
Canada ( 27 June 2019)
Luxembourg (10 Jul 2019)
Jersey (18 Sep 2019
Greece (8 Nov 2019)
France (3 Dec 2019)
Cyprus (18 Dec 2019)
Italy (17 Jan 2020)
Uruguay (27 Jan 2020)
Serbia (27 Feb 2020)
Argentina (4 Jun 2020)
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”.
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 – 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.
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).
Volk and Kern v. Bd. of Trustees of California State University, CGC-18-563970 (Cal. Super. Ct., S.F. Co., filed 30 Jan 2018).
Columbia University. Complaint filed on 18 Dec 2019, with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights against Columbia University by a Jewish Israeli-American undergraduate student who alleges that he has been a victim of anti-Semitic discrimination over the past year.