New definition of anti-Semitism challenges pro-Israel narratives
The “Jerusalem Declaration on Anti-Semitism,” released on Thursday, goes further than previous definitions in explicitly saying that the movement to boycott Israel is not anti-Semitic in nature.
“Boycott, divestment, and sanctions are commonplace, non-violent forms of political protest against states,” the declaration, which was signed by scholars in the fields of anti-Semitism, said. “In the Israeli case, they are not, in and of themselves, anti-Semitic."
The new definition comes on the heels of a separate statement issued by a liberal group of Jewish scholars, which said that boycott measures applied to Israel were not necessarily anti-Semitic.
Both statements sought to push back against pro-Israel groups, who are trying to push for national governments to adopt a 2016 definition crafted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
The IHRA definition of defines as anti-Semitic the application of “double standards” against Israel by “requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”
“Because the IHRA Definition is unclear in key respects and widely open to different interpretations, it has caused confusion and generated controversy, hence weakening the fight against antisemitism,” the Jerusalem declaration states.
Among the declaration’s lead drafters are anti-Semitism scholars in the United States, Israel, Germany and Britain, including Ian Lustick of the University of Pennsylvania and the chairwoman of the Jewish studies program at Dartmouth, Susannah Heschel.