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Left-wing Activists Pressure American Bar Association Not To Adopt Widely-Accepted IHRA Definition of Antisemitism

Left-wing Activists Pressure American Bar Association Not To Adopt Widely-Accepted IHRA Definition of Antisemitism

LIF finds itself in the unusual position of complimenting the ABA for its resolution; will ABA cave the way Harvard Dean Elmendorf did?

Legal Insurrection Foundation doesn’t often compliment the American Bar Association these days. But, we’re tentatively applauding the decision of a group of its sections to propose a resolution condemning antisemitism. Resolution 514, as it’s known, is slated to be presented to the ABA’s House of Delegates for approval, at the HOD’s upcoming February meeting.

The resolution urges federal, state, and local governments to condemn antisemitism. It isn’t worded as clearly as it could be, but it encourages governments to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA’s) working definition of antisemitism. The resolution begins:

RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal governments in the United States to condemn antisemitism, as referred to in The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, encouraged for use by other governments and international organizations by the U.S. Department of State: “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.”

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal governments in the United States to support legislation which combats and condemns antisemitism…

[Click on image to see document.]

Among the manifestations of antisemitism which the IHRA definition condemns is unfairly targeting Israel, as by “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,” or “Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation”; and targeting Jewish people on the pretext of “Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.” The resolution notes that “The United States [– or at least the U.S. State Department –] now uses this working definition and has encouraged other governments and international organizations to use it as well.”

The balance of the nineteen-page resolution proposes measures to combat antisemitism.

It is being offered by the ABA’s Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice, Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice, Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, International Law Section, and Senior Lawyers Division.

It concludes with this cautionary note from its executive summary:

Summary of any minority views or opposition internal and/or external to the ABA which have been identified.

As the Report notes, some 10% of Americans, and 26% of the worldwide population, harbor antisemitic beliefs, and would oppose this resolution. Though this Resolution is not about Israel, the centrist, contextual, consensus IHRA definition of antisemitism might also be opposed by those who maintain either that criticism of Israel is always antisemitic, or that criticism of Israel is never antisemitic. The Southern Poverty Law Center identifies 61 antisemitic organizations (Antisemitism | Southern Poverty Law Center ( which would likely oppose the resolution, as would thousands of open antisemites including Kanye West, Nick Fuentes, David Duke, Mel Gibson, and Jon Minadeo Jr.

All the people identified above as antisemites are politically right-of-center. It perhaps did not occur to the resolution’s authors and sponsors that the most vociferous opposition would likely come from the political left.

On January 18, a group of left-wing, Islamist, and anti-Israel organizations wrote to the co-sponsors condemning Resolution 514’s support for the IHRA definition. The ACLU, Jewish Voice for Peace, Council on American Islamic Relations, et al., offered mealy-mouthed support for fighting antisemitism, but claimed IHRA chills free speech and is anti-Palestinian. Among other things, the letter complained that the IHRA definition was “dangerously chilling fundamental rights of free speech, freedom of assembly and protest, and academic freedom.”

This supposed concern for free speech and academic freedom is rich, coming from a collection of organizations that have hounded pro-Israel voices out of universities. The ACLU, in particular, has given up what used to be its main mission in favor of agitating only for leftist political causes it favors, and keeping mum about suppression of voices it disfavors. For example, it refused to support those who drew or published cartoons of Muhammad, or to condemn Islamist attempts to silence criticism of Islam (so-called “defamation of religion”). Ayaan Hirsi Ali considers both the ACLU and the SPLC as what Lenin called “useful idiots,” which have been or are being infiltrated by Islamists. The once-celebrated ACLU has now become another anti-Israel, so-called “progressivepartisan.

Hopefully, the ABA will present the resolution despite last-minute efforts to derail it. But don’t be surprised if it’s pulled from consideration.

Why do the objecting organizations oppose condemning antisemitism? Why do they particularly oppose adopting IHRA’s definition of antisemitism, which (among other things) condemns obsessively criticizing Israel and delegitimizing its right to exist?

Occam’s Razor says, the simplest solution that answers the question is the best solution. Here’s a possibility – these groups oppose adopting IHRA’s well-vetted definition of antisemitism because they are antisemitic.


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Yes it is telling that only the right-wing was criticized. This leaves them out of saying JVP is “after all Jewish” or some such nonsense. Joining in hoping this resolution is approved as written, without an exception for left-wing antisemitism.

Steven Brizel | January 29, 2023 at 6:36 pm

This is the woke left of the legal profession

    SB – with due respect, the ABA has been the “woke left of the legal profession” for a while. This is a proposed carve-out by the significant Jewish segment of ABA membership from the woke’s blanket criticism of “white supremacists,” the “over-privileged”, etc. The proposed resolution will act as both a sword and shield against being painted with the same brush currently used by their woke fellow travelers on whites generally.

    Won’t it be great when disagreement with, or criticism of, any person that happens to be Jewish is labelled as borderline-antisemitism?

It’s not that ANY criticism of Israel is anti-semitism but that only Israel ever gets called out for human rights abuses….because those that only target Israel ARE doing so because of vial racism against Jews!

Israel has a unique position of all nation states in being a sanctuary for Jews, after the almost successful effort by the Germans to genocidally exterminate the Jews.
Just finished the thousand pages of Alan Bullock’s “Hitler and Stalin, Parallel Lives”, which concludes with a chapter entitled “Perspective”.
Bullock notes that Stalin killed more people of the Soviet Union than Hitler killed Jews, but Hitler’s target was a people, not an economic class or political class, and as such was unique.
It thus became uniquely justified that a sanctuary be reserved for those people.
That some non-Jews were inconvenienced by that sanctuary is infinitely less tragic than the historical events justifying the sanctuary.

In essence, anything goes.

This may be the last issue that Democrats and Republicans actually agree on. There will be no caving on this the polls are constantly clear on this issue, important Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden are clear on how they feel on this issue.

If the ABA steps back it is because they believe in anti-Semitism not because of pressure. For them to cave to pressure would mean they would adopt the stance of the vast majority of Americans, the Republican Party, the Democrat Party, and the big corporations.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair | January 30, 2023 at 12:26 am

I dislike the term “antisemitism” intensely. It is intentionally obfuscating. It is “Jew Hate” we are talking about and that is what it should be called.

Personally, I would rather see governments just stay out of the Jew Hate business, either way. I don’t care what government think about Jew hating and I would rather they just keep their mouths shut about it. It’s not their concern and governments are not the organizations I would want jumping into this debate on either side.

Governments are supposed to be concerned with the interests of their countries and their citizenry. That’s it.

    “Governments are supposed to be concerned with the interests of their countries and their citizenry. That’s it.”

    Agree. Therefore, when some actor(s) specifically target a group of citizens with intent and means to harm, it’s the government’s obligation to prevent that harm from happening.

    That’s it.

      ThePrimordialOrderedPair in reply to coyote. | January 30, 2023 at 10:03 am

      That’s not really how that works.

      And we are not talking about “targeting” for violence. We are talking about people who hate Jews (which they are certainly allowed to do) and are voicing that.

      People who carry out crimes against others are … criminals. There are laws to deal with that. People who hate other people are not criminals until they commit actual crimes.

      It is not government’s job to be handing down moral judgments about people’s opinions and I never look to the government (or any governmental entity) for moral direction. And the American Bar Association is the last place on Earth to be lecturing anyone about morals of any sort. All I want from the American Bar Association is for THEM to stop being treasonously anti-American.