Anti-Israel Groups Push White House To Weaken Recognized Anti-Semitism Definition

A Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions protester in New York City / Wikimedia Commons
May 19, 2023

Left-wing groups are reportedly lobbying the White House to water down its official definition of anti-Semitism, as the Biden administration prepares to release a major strategy report on combating anti-Jewish bigotry.

J Street, Americans for Peace Now, and other left-wing activists are pushing Biden officials to exclude the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism from its designation, Jewish Insider reported this week. Contrary to the left wing activists, the IHRA deems some anti-Israel rhetoric—such as equating Israel to Nazi Germany and denying the legitimacy of a Jewish homeland—anti-Semitic.

Mainstream Jewish groups, such as the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and pro-Israel lawmakers from both parties are urging the White House to adopt the language from the IHRA, of which the United States is a member. The IHRA working definition, which was published in 2016, is used by the U.S. State Department.

The dispute comes as anti-Israel Democratic lawmakers have demonized the Jewish state and worked to undercut support for Israel within the party. Earlier this month, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) allowed Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) to use Senate event space to host a rally denouncing Israel’s creation, after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) blocked Tlaib from holding the gathering on the House side of Congress.

Americans for Peace Now leader Hadar Susskind said, in a statement to Jewish Insider, the Biden administration report shouldn’t "endorse or adopt" any definitions of anti-Semitism "because I don’t think that’s useful."

J Street’s president Dylan Williams denounced the IHRA definition as "controversial" and said it "focuses disproportionately on criticism of Israel" and "does a disservice to Jewish Americans targeted by this hatred," Jewish Insider reported.

The White House strategy report on anti-Semitism could be released as soon as the end of the month.