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White House Antisemitism Plan Succumbs To Leftist Pressure on Defining Antisemitism

White House Antisemitism Plan Succumbs To Leftist Pressure on Defining Antisemitism

Under the guise of “inclusivity,” the document leaves “antisemitism” so poorly defined that it creates a pretext for permitting it instead of a plan to stop it.

Late last month, the White House released its long-awaited “whole-of-society” National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism.

The administration’s “inclusive” plan sought and received input from “every sector of American society” (including actual antisemites) to arrive at a definition of antisemitism so vague that critics warn it will lead to more of it, especially the anti-Zionism variety escalating from the left.

Mainstream Jewish organizations were predictable cheerleaders for the White House plan. After all, their future relevance, access, collaboration, and funding were on the line.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations praised “the clarity and urgency demonstrated by the White House” and looked forward to “collaborating with the White House and Congress to ensure the implementation of this National Strategy”:


The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) “applauded” the Biden administration and was “excited to continue to collaborate in the execution” of its new plan:

But outside the mainstream, observers say the plan has no teeth and predict it will give cover to the antisemitism now escalating from anti-Israel progressive groups.

“It isn’t a strategy for fighting Jew hatred,” Caroline Glick tweeted. “It’s a strategy for enabling it from the left.”

The plan’s 60 pages are crammed with performative “calls to action” against “antisemitism”— a term it conflates with innumerable other forms of “bigotry and hate.” The phrase “call on” appears 90 times in “calls on Congress” and “calls on society” to do virtuous-sounding things like “take steps to increase awareness” of antisemitism, whatever any of that means.

National Plan to Counter Antisemitism Equivocates … On Antisemitism

The plan’s deepest flaw, though, is its failure to define its mission.

Under the guise of “inclusivity,” the document leaves “antisemitism” so poorly defined that it creates a pretext for permitting it instead of a plan to stop it.

As Rabbi Yaakov Menken, managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values  told NTD News, the report’s failure to affirmatively identify its target “will allow real antisemitism to fester.”

It’s not as if the White House working group tasked with developing the strategy hadn’t tried—sort of. They acknowledged that “if we cannot name, identify, and admit a problem, we cannot begin to solve it.” The question was, how would they define it?

It should have been a no-brainer: the widely accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism is regarded as the “gold standard.” The State Department endorsed it as recently as last November as “integral to the fight to eliminate” the scourge of antisemitism.

Supporters of the IHRA definition favor it because it reaches antisemitism that is couched as legitimate criticism of Israel. As we explained here:

The IHRA definition condemns … 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 IHRA definition works. That’s why organizations on the left, such as the ACLU, Jewish Voice for Peace, and Council on American Islamic Relations challenge it. They claim it chills free speech and is anti-Palestinian.

Those groups have a history of opposing the IHRA standard; earlier this year they successfully pressured the American Bar Association (ABA) to rescind its endorsement of it in its own resolution against antisemitism.

As the White House plan neared its final draft, left-wing groups once again pushed back on the presumptive IHRA standard, lobbying the White House to include their watered-down definition of Jew-hatred described in the Nexus Document.  Created to counter the IHRA, the Nexus definition would insulate anti-Zionism and “legitimize a fast-growing form of Jew-hatred that—in contrast to the antisemitism of the far-right—has important support in the media, popular culture and the left wing of the Democratic Party,” said Jonathan Tobin at the Jewish News Syndicate (JNS).

And, indeed, when the White House plan finally came out last month—on the eve of the Memorial-Day-weekend-created media dead zone—it stopped short of adopting the IHRA standard.

It acknowledged both definitions but adopted neither, leaving the subject matter of the entire memorandum undefined:

There are several definitions of antisemitism, which serve as valuable tools to raise awareness and increase understanding of antisemitism. The most prominent is the non-legally binding “working definition” of antisemitism adopted in 2016 by the 31-member states of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which the United States has embraced. In addition, the Administration welcomes and appreciates the Nexus Document and notes other such efforts.

There is no commitment in an “embrace”—much less the present perfect “has embraced”—to using the IHRA definition now or in the future.

This is not to say that the plan offers no definition of antisemitism. But the definition it does offer cobbles together so many different terms and conditions in its hodgepodge that you have no idea what Jew-hatred is by the time you’re finally finished reading it:

Antisemitism is a stereotypical and negative perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred of Jews. It is prejudice, bias, hostility, discrimination, or violence against Jews for being Jews or Jewish institutions or property for being Jewish or perceived as Jewish. Antisemitism can manifest as a form of racial, religious, national origin, and/or ethnic discrimination, bias, or hatred; or, a combination thereof. However, antisemitism is not simply a form of prejudice or hate. It is also a pernicious conspiracy theory that often features myths about Jewish power and control.

“Antisemitism” which “may be expressed as hatred of Jews” is merely another species of hate in this “inclusive” ChatGPT-quality mediocrity that renders the term meaningless.

“Not Using the IHRA Creates a Gaping Hole”

If the White House were serious about combating antisemitism, it would have unequivocally adopted the IHRA standard to define its mission. As Stop Antisemitism tweeted, “not using IHRA as a foundational guide creates a gaping hole; while the plan acknowledges that Jews have been targeted because of their connection to Israel, it fails to name anti-Zionism as a primary form of antisemitism.”

And anti-Zionism is today’s antisemitism—campaigns to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel (BDS);  accusations of apartheid against Israel; and calls for the destruction of the Jewish state—come from the left, not from the “white supremacy” of the right the report repeatedly points to. That’s why left-wing groups, including CAIR—later hailed in the White House Fact Sheet, along with the Southern Poverty Law Center, as a “solidarity” partner—championed the President’s plan.

In its drive for an “inclusive” definition of antisemitism, the White House plan shrewdly crafted a useless standard for addressing Jew-hatred.

But not useless to its base.  Because this past week, when all calmed down, it was back to business as usual at ADL, partnering and fundraising and collaborating with the Biden administration on a national strategy that will enable the antisemitism it promised to stop.


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I don’t understand why they waste so much energy giving lip service to ‘fighting anti-Semitism’ when they are so enthusiastically pushing anti-White ideology.

    Crawford in reply to Paul. | June 5, 2023 at 1:04 am

    The “woke” consider Jews the whitest of all people. It’s not hard to tell where they’ll start their planned “white genocide”.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair | June 4, 2023 at 7:02 pm

“Antisemitism” is an awful euphemism (like “Asian”). The correct expression is “Jew Hate”. Examples of it can be seen all over leftist policy and urban culture. Jew hate has traditionally been the strongest, easiest tool for anyone to use to bind disparate groups with nothing much in common.

Now … “National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism Jew-Hate” … that’s really no business or interest of the US government (even though we know that the left does this merely for show, anyway, since half of the left’s policies are built on Jew Hate).

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance sounds like the last place to go for a characterization of antisemitism, anyway if you’re interested in the actual performance of the word.

They’d be an organization dedicated to defining what cannot be discussed.

Academic book catalogs I used to get in the 80s typically had a Jewish Studies section, and among the offerings was a section “Holocaust for Children.”

Academically you could characterize that as reflecting a culture more tightly bound to prophets than to philosophers, or valorization of whining as a life form. I bet this is counterproductive.

Roughly it stands as Black Lives Matter stands to the well being of blacks.

A nice example of the opposite is (Jew) Emanuel Levinas, whose preface to Existence and Existents ends

“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.”

That is, he does not do exactly what the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance valorizes for the reasons that he dismisses.

Here’s Levinas in commenting on Heidegger’s Nazi sympathies:

“It is impossible to be stinting in our admiration for the intellectual vigor of “Sein und Zeit,” particularly in light of the immense output this extraordinary book of 1927 inspired. Its supreme steadfastness will mark it forever. Can we be assured, however, that there was never any echo of Evil in it? The diabolical is not limited to the wickedness popular wisdom ascribes to it and whose malice, based on guile, is familiar and predictable in an adult culture. The diabolical is endowed with intelligence and enters where it will. To reject it, it is first necessary to refute it. Intellectual effort is needed to recognize it. Who can boast of having done so? Say what you will, the diabolical gives food for thought.”

It seems to me the Holocaust industry is too incurious about evil.

On Israel and Palestine, being a Chosen People means chosen for special responsibilities in taking on care for the other guy. It’s why Palestinians are treated in Israeli hospitals, something nobody mentions.

In general, as a matter of defining morality, everybody is in that position. Everybody is a Jew.

60 pages of drivel.

Muslim supremacists’/terrorists’ slanderous, dishonest, contrived and evil characterizations of Israel as an allegedly illegitimate, “colonial” and “occupying” presence — gleefully adopted and parroted by the vile Dhimmi-crats — are now the rubric under which contemporary Jew-hate is couched and rationalized, on the Left.

Any effort to combat Jew-hate/anti-Semitism that doesn’t address this obvious reality is inherently farcical, insincere and intended to avoid the Dhimmi-crats actually being held accountable for their virulent Jew-hate and anti-Israel venom and slanders.

And, yes, this utterly worthless “anti-Semitism” shuck-and-jive is more transparent, feckless and morally contemptible dhimmitude, from the vile Dhimmi-crats.

Steven Brizel | June 5, 2023 at 9:23 am

The strategy of the plan ignores that anti Semitism and anti Zionism cannot be separated and that diversity inclusion and equity is the biggest source of anti Semitism on college campuses snd in corporate life today

Steven Brizel | June 6, 2023 at 8:36 am

For those interested see this trenchant critique of this plan-you don’t engage in dialogue with Hamas fronts on anti Semitism

Anti-Israel agitators support those who want to drive 7 million Jews into the sea. They aren’t antisemitic, aside from wanting to murder more Jews than Hitler.