Image 01 Image 03

Distinguished Law Faculty Call on ABA to Reconsider Resolution Defining Antisemitism It Pulled Under Activist Pressure

Distinguished Law Faculty Call on ABA to Reconsider Resolution Defining Antisemitism It Pulled Under Activist Pressure

Law professors call the widely respected IHRA definition deleted by the ABA “an invaluable educational tool for understanding how Jews experience antisemitism today”

This past January, Legal Insurrection Foundation found itself in the unusual position of agreeing with the American Bar Association (ABA).

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

We wrote about how the lawyers’ group was considering a draft Resolution 514 against antisemitism that, to its credit, incorporated the widely accepted standard of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) for defining it:

[Click on image to see document.]

While we applauded the ABA’s strong stance against antisemitism in the initial draft, we doubted whether they would hold the line. Opposition from the left was mounting:

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.

Would the ABA cave, we wondered, the way Harvard Dean Elmendorf did?

That is exactly what happened, The Washington Examiner later reported. When it met in February, the ABA adopted a revised version of the resolution that eliminated the well-regarded IHRA definition.

American Jewish advocacy groups responded to the ABA’s backpedaling with a lukewarm “thanks, but no thanks.” As reported by the Jewish News Syndicate (JNS):

The American Jewish Committee stated its appreciation for the ABA condemnation of antisemitism amid “alarming” levels of antisemitism. But it added it is “disappointed the resolution omits the widely-recognized definition of antisemitism from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which provides clear guidance on what is antisemitism and what it is not.”

“Some ABA members claimed the IHRA definition inhibits free speech, because it considers all criticism of Israel antisemitic. That is false,” AJC stated. “Even a cursory reading of the definition would disprove that.”

The Jewish Federations of North America tweeted applause for the ABA’s consideration of the resolution condemning antisemitism, but stated it is disappointed the ABA didn’t include the IHRA definition, “a tool we support that outlines modern manifestations of antisemitism.”

Even the ADL tweeted its disappointment:

The opposition picked up steam last week when a group of nearly 30 distinguished law faculty—including two former university presidents and many longtime ABA members—called on the organization to restore the IHRA definition to the resolution:

[W]e regret that Resolution 514 as adopted and revised omits an internationally-agreed upon standard and urge the ABA to reconsider its stance on this matter.

The IHRA definition is an invaluable educational tool for understanding how Jews experience antisemitism today. It includes both classical antisemitic tropes and canards and illustrations of contemporary antisemitism that are often directed against the State of Israel—such as calls for Israel’s destruction and comparing it to Nazi Germany.

It is unfortunate that the supporters of Resolution 514 were reportedly persuaded to opt out of using the IHRA definition only after a number of organizations mobilized in recent weeks to voice wildly exaggerated concerns that it is ‘dangerously chilling’ speech in support of Palestinian rights.

We reject claims that the IHRA definition undermines and chills free expression, suppresses pro-Palestinian advocacy, or prohibits speech critical of Israel. In fact, the definition explicitly states that it is not antisemitic to criticize Israel in ways similar to other countries. But when conspiracy theories and anti-Jewish stereotypes flourish under the guise of calls to eliminate Israel, this needs to be called out and condemned as antisemitism. Left unchecked, this hateful speech justifies the harassment, exclusion, and marginalization of Jews in America and worldwide.

The signatories were brought together by the Academic Engagement Network (AEN), a pro-Israel advocacy group that works with faculty and staff on college campuses.

AEN says that “more than 1,000 global entities, including 850 government bodies such as the U.S. State Department, the European Union, and the United Nations, have adopted the IHRA definition as their official definition of antisemitism. More than half of U.S. states have individually adopted the IHRA definition, as have numerous US cities, universities, NGOs, and corporations.”

The reason the IHRA definition has been so widely adopted is that it suits the times. Today’s antisemitism doesn’t fit into the old molds. It finds expression in campaigns to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel (BDS);  accusations of apartheid against Israel; and calls for the destruction of the Jewish state. But as the faculty letter urges, “antisemitism cannot be effectively combated or remedied if it is poorly understood.” And that is why the ABA should adopt the IHRA definition: it conveys the true meaning of antisemitism as experienced in real life by Jews today.

Whether the ABA will honor its commitment to “take a leadership role in opposing antisemitism”—as it exists in the here and now—remains to be seen this summer, at its next annual meeting scheduled in August.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


Hegel says that Jewish consciousness is an unhappy consciousness.

    ahad haamoratsim in reply to rhhardin. | March 20, 2023 at 9:41 am

    And the relevance of this to Jews expecting to live free of hatred, harassment and discrimination is?

      Jews have a very high verbal IQ and a love of whining.

        And you sound like someone without the IQ and whining. But the antisemitism is just about Israel, right?

          Probably the thing to notice is the part that is a reaction against whining, making whining both counterproductive and self-sustaining, a happy combination for continuation of the tradition though.

          In the 80s I used to get academic book catalogs, and usually it had a section “Holocaust for Children.”

          A weird thing to encourage, I thought at the time.

          Those Jews, eh? You have not noticed that you’re the one doing the whining here?

          To tell the truth, ever since eschatology has opposed peace and war the evidence of war has been maintained in an essentially hypocritical civilization, that is, attached both to the True and to the Good, henceforth antagonistic. It is perhaps time to see in hypocrisy not only a base contingent defect of man, but the underlying rending of a world attached to both the philosophers and the prophets.

          – Levinas

          Never go all prophet.

          Bigotry hiding behind words,

          Among ten feet shelf space of Jewish intellectuals is “existence and existents” by the same Levinas. The preface ends with

          These studies begun before the war were continued and written down for the most part in captivity. The stalag is evoked here not as a guarantee of profundity nor as a claim to indulgence, but as an explanation for the absence of any consideration of those philosophical works published, with so much impact, between 1940 and 1945.

          You want whining? See the Palestinians, whom the left love. They have taken every bit of aid or concessions given to them, and turned them into trash, just to continue whining. See: Gaza strip.

          They have self persecuted themselves, with leaders that simply take the foreign aid and keep it for themselves. See Arafat and his daughter.

          They live in squalor to make a false point. They fake videos of slain women and children. They publicly and loudly support terrorism, including random attacks on civilians.

          But people shunned throughout history, to the point of being gassed and immolated, are “whining.” Spare me.

          And I am not even Jewish.

          The media always favor the group with the lowest average IQ. It’s a business decision for better ratings as soap opera.

          David Walker in reply to oldschooltwentysix. | March 21, 2023 at 3:28 pm

          So a lot like you then, right?

          David Walker in reply to oldschooltwentysix. | March 21, 2023 at 3:32 pm

          For the avoidance of doubt, my comment was addressed to rhhardin, not oldschooltwentysix

None of the vilification and slanders (it’s much more hateful than mere “criticism”) that are leveled at Israel by vile European Leftist dhimmis and American Dhimmi-crats, is similar to that leveled at other countries. The bile aimed at Israel propagated by Muslim supremacists/terrorists and their allies is inherently dishonest, reflexively and stupidly parrots contrived/fallacious Islamic propaganda mythologies of alleged victimhood, is brimming with Jew-hate and refuses to acknowledge Jews’ historical roots in the middle east — roots which pre-date the founding of the supremacist, totalitarian and belligerent ideology of “Submission” by millennia.

“It finds expression in campaigns to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel (BDS); accusations of apartheid against Israel; and calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.”

That’s not anti-semitism, an irrational hatred of a Jewish person. That’s anti-zionism, a legit political opposition.

To use such a huge brush to paint objection to Israel as anti-semitism is a dangerous ‘hate speech’ policy akin to the SPLC targetting Christians as a hate group.

Stop it. Stop your whining. Put on your big boy pants, nuclear-armed Israel with a near-invincible military, and stop it.

    ahad haamoratsim in reply to LB1901. | March 20, 2023 at 12:57 pm

    I don’t hate the French. I just hate that there’s a French state.

      Don’t worry. The EU is ensuring the destruction of the French state as they all learn to speak Arabic.

        ahad haamoratsim in reply to LB1901. | March 21, 2023 at 3:18 am

        Ok, instead of the French, here’s another:

        “I don’t hate Arabs. I just hate that they are allowed to have states. And to govern themselves.. And to consider themselves a people. And to live where they please. All these things are serious violations of international law. And I vehemently criticize them for things they have never done, And I twist legal standards in a way that applies only to them in order to falsely characterize perfectly lawful actions as uniquely evil crimes against humanity, while overlooking or even praising far worse crimes committed by their enemies. But don’t accuse me of hating them — that’s just a ploy to intimidate me against making legitimate criticism. Even though the legitimate criticism consists chiefly of the lies and distortions mentioned above.”

Calls for the destruction of the Jewish state is certainly antisemitism, as is the allegation that Israel is apartheid. And ever notice that the boycotts are directed only at Jews. Now tell us that the laptop is fake!

Pathetic to pretend that criticism of Israel is not allowed. It’s blind to what is going on there right now.

So please stop YOUR whining.

Maybe the ABA should stop all of this pretense, and formally merge with the Southern Poverty Law Center. They seem to share similar goals.

    ahad haamoratsim in reply to Q. | March 21, 2023 at 3:21 am

    But the Jewish state is not perfect, so, of course ! it has no right to exist. For that matter, Jews as individuals have no right to exist unless they are perfect! But that doesn’t mean I dislike Jews.

When I was in medical school, the AMA was a sensible organization. I graduated exactly 50 years ago. Student AMA (SAMA) was the club to join, and pretty much everyone did just that. By far most American MDs were members.

In the intervening half century, AMA went from mainstream/slightly right of center to the solidly left-wing group it has become. I don’t know what percent of current MDs belong, but at some point membership had dropped to less than 35%. Older MDs recognize that the AMA became an overwhelmingly political organization, largely tone deaf to the wishes of the members. Like other organizations, they have gotten solidly onto the woke bandwagon.

In response to this behavior, the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) has formed. It reflects conservative values and rational thought, as opposed to AMAs touchy-feeliness.

It looks like the ABA has gone the way of the AMA. The question is whether correct-thinking attorneys will form an alternative to it as doctors formed the AAPS.