Biden administration backs contentious IHRA definition of anti-Semitism

Biden administration backs contentious IHRA definition of anti-Semitism
The IHRA definition has been adopted by a number of countries but has been criticised by lawyers, academics and activists for allegedly silencing criticism of Israel.
2 min read
03 March, 2021
Secretary of State Antony Blinken 'enthusiastically' supports the definition [Getty]
The Biden administration has "embraced" a contentious definition of anti-Semitism that has been criticised for allegedly conflating Israel with Judaism.

The administration "embraces and champions" the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, a senior State Department official said this week.

"We applaud the growing number of countries and international bodies that apply it. We urge all that haven't done so to do likewise," said Kara McDonald, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken also voiced his "enthusiastic" support for the IHRA definition in a letter to the American Zionist Movement.

"The United States will continue to be a strong partner in fighting efforts to delegitimise Israel, and we will work equally tirelessly to counter attempts to isolate Israel in the international community, as we also work to advance a two-state solution where a Jewish and democratic Israel can live side by side in peace, prosperity, security and freedom with a viable Palestinian state," Blinken was quoted as saying by the Jewish Insider.

The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism has been adopted by more than a dozen countries including the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany.

However, the definition has been widely criticised by academics and pro-Palestinian advocates who claim it can be used to stifle legitimate criticism of Israel.

Several of the 11 examples of anti-Semitism listed in the IHRA's working definition relate to speech about Israel.

One of the points explicitly describes "claiming that the existence of the State of Israel is a racist endeavor" as an example of anti-Semitism.

The IHRA also describes comparisons of Israeli policy to the Nazis as anti-Semitic.

The definition has also been criticised by rights lawyers for lacking clarity as a legal definition.

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