Monday, 2 Aug 2021 - 24 of Av, 5781

350 academics from around the world sign letter of support of the IHRA definition of antisemitism

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”We are  all  in  agreement on the urgent need to respond to the rising antisemitism worldwide. The IHRA Definition of antisemitism is an invaluable tool that recognizes the various manifestations and garbs of contemporary antisemitism,” reads the letter.

 

350 academics from around the world have signed a letter of support of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. The letter was published and posted Tuesday by more than 15 Jewish groups from around the world.

This worldwide efforts is aimed to show support for the important IHRA definition that is currently under attack on multiple fronts and amid rising antisemitism in the world.

The working definition of antisemitism was adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in 2016. It is  a comprehensive definition that describes the hatred in all its various forms, including both traditional and contemporary manifestations. It has since been adopted by 18 EU Member States along with other countries in Europe and around the world.

The definition states that ‘’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.’’

Here is the full text of the letter signed by the academics :

We, the undersigned academics, professionals and intellectuals are hereby stating our support for  the  definition  of  antisemitism  by  the  International  Holocaust  Remembrance  Alliance  (IHRA) and of its necessity in the efforts against antisemitism worldwide.

1.We are a group of concerned academics, professionals and intellectuals, Jewish and non-Jewish, ranging the spectrum of politics. We have members identifying with the political Right, Left and centre. We hold diverging  views  on  the  policies  of  the  current  Israeli  government,  its  policies  vis-a-vis  the  Palestinians  and  the  proper  way  to  achieve  peace  and  coexistence  with  Israel’s  neighbours.  However,  we  are  all  in  agreement on the urgent need to respond to the rising antisemitism worldwide. The IHRA Definition of antisemitism is an invaluable tool that recognizes the various manifestations and garbs of contemporary antisemitism.

2.The IHRA definition of antisemitism is an international accepted definition of antisemitism drafted by representatives and scholars from around the world. The IHRA definition covers classical antisemitic tropes, like calling for harm against Jews, stereotypes and demonization and Holocaust denial, as well as more  modern  forms  as  antisemitism.  The  definition  recognizes  that  contemporary  antisemitism  is  often  directed against the State of Israel – calls for Israel’s destruction, comparisons to Nazi Germany, double standards and demonization.

3.Antisemitism has often been called the world’s oldest hatred, metastasizing and shifting depending on culture and context.  Since the beginning of the new millenium, we have witnessed the rise of a “new antisemitism”, drawing on the legacy of previous anti-Jewish imagery and tropes. This new antisemitism has its roots in a noxious mixture of classical, modern racial, Islamic and Soviet anti-Zionist antisemitism. It marks out the Jewish state as uniquely demonic, deserving of boycott and opprobrium. In a world full of states and national movements, it calls for the dismantling and ultimately violent destruction of the State of Israel. This antisemitism justifies the harassment, exclusion and ostracism of Israelis and Jews worldwide. It continues centuries old traditions of boycotting, rejecting and shunning Jews. It applies classical antisemitic imagery or comparisons to Nazi Germany, the perpetrator of the worst antisemitic crime in history, to the State of Israel, the home of half of world Jewry. Contemporary antisemitism comes from multiple sources holding fringe ideologies – far-right reactionaries, far left anti-Zionists and Islamic jihadists and radicals.

4.Much  of  this  contemporary  antisemitism  focuses  obsessively  on  the  alleged  misdoings  of  “Zionism”,  seeking to separate Zionism from its Jewish context. The “Zionism” which these antisemites seek to malign  and  oppose  has  little  in  common  with  actual  Zionism.  In  reality,  Zionism  is  the  Jewish  national  movement, dedicated to the reestablishment of a state for the Jewish people in their ancestral homeland. From  its  very  inception,  Zionism  has  envisioned  a  state  based  on  equal  rights  and  tolerance  for  all  its  citizens, in which the Jewish people are able to exercise their right to self-determination. Zionism is based on two thousand years of longing and yearning to return to the Land of Israel, as embedded in millennia of Jewish prayer, literature and observance. Furthermore, for many Jews, in Israel and in the Diaspora, Zionism and the State of Israel are a guarantee of Jewish safety and flourishing. For many of us,  Jewish and Israeli academics of diverse backgrounds, our family histories bear the scars of a world without a State of Israel. Many of our parents and grandparents fled persecution in Europe and the Arab and Muslim worlds due to their Jewish identity. The State of Israel has provided Jews worldwide with a homeland, a place to develop our unique culture and the ability to protect ourselves from external threats. Therefore, calls to dismantle the Jewish state cannot be understood as anything but an assault on Jewish history, identity and safety.

5. We would never  suggest  that  criticism  of  Israel  is  antisemitic.  This  argument  is  simply  a  strawman.  However,  when  Israel’s  very  existence  is  delegitimized  and  threatened,  when  Israelis  and  Jews  are  excluded because of their association with the Jewish state, and when antisemitic conspiracies and tropes flourish  under  the  guise  of  anti-Israelism  and  anti-Zionism,  we  recognize  that  this  is  antisemitism.  The  hatred  directed  against  Israel,  when  left  unchecked,  seeps  out  and  targets  Jewish  communities  in  the  Diaspora,  who  largely  identify  with  and  support  the  State  of  Israel  in  essence,  not  necessarily  with  one  policy  or  another.  These  anti-Israel  conspiracy  theories  and  false  accusations  have  fueled  harassment,  assault and even murder of Jews in North America and Europe. We are incredulous at the suggestion that the adoption of the IHRA definition and the commitment to rooting out antisemitism is somehow opposed to the wider struggle against racism and oppression.

6. Peace and reconciliation  cannot  advance  along  with  the  denial  and  delegitimization  of  the  Jewish  people’s right to safety and security in their state. Calls for Israel’s destruction, as well as discrimination against Israelis and Jews worldwide, are antithetical to human rights.

7.We believe in  open  dialogue  and  critical  discussion  with  people  of  good  faith  worldwide.  However,  when Israelis and Jews worldwide are threatened, we must speak up.

To sign the letter, follow the link: https://adoptihra.com/supporting-ihra/

 

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