White House refuses to endorse 'pro-Israel' definition of anti-Semitism
The White House has stopped short of adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) controversial definition of anti-Semitism in its plan to combat hatred against Jews in the United States.
Washington released its first-ever strategy to combat anti-Semitism on Thursday amid a rise in hate crimes in the US. However, this did not include the adoption of the IHRA definition.
The White House's decision to not endorse IHRA in its new antisemitism strategy is a significant blow to pro-IHRA camp. Huge kudos to progressive Jewish orgs who ensured focus was on how to keep Jews safe not how to shield Israel from accountability https://t.co/mTllbESJXm 🧵— Em Hilton #SaveMasaferYatta 🔥✡️💇🏼♀️ (@emtravelodge) May 25, 2023
The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism has been a continuing source of controversy and debate.
Adopted by the organisation in 2016, it defines anti-Semitism not only as "a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews" but goes on to say that accusing "the State of Israel of being a racist endeavour" and "requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation" are examples of anti-Semitism.
Pro-Israel groups have pressured the Biden administration to adopt the IHRA definition, which mentioned Israel in six of the 11 examples it used to characterise anti-Semitism.
Palestinian rights groups have argued that that the IHRA definition could be used to muzzle fair criticism of Israeli human rights abuses against Palestinians.
The White House skirted around this definition when setting its strategy to combat anti-Semitisim, saying it “embraced” the IHRA characterisation but also acknowledged there were other definitions.
FBI statistics say that anti-Semitism accounted for 63 percent of religiously motivated hate crimes in the US, even though Jewish people only account for 2 percent of the population.
The Biden administration’s strategy outlines more than 100 steps that federal agencies have promised to take within a year and more than 100 specific calls to action to combat anti-Semitism, aimed at religious communities, academic institutions, local and state governments, civil society, and the US Congress.