Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Imagine That--The State Department Defines Anti-Semitism!

On the State Department website, The Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism offers a “Working Definition” of Anti-Semitism, based on the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC):

In light of the longstanding commitment of the U.S. to free speech and other individual freedoms as demonstrated within our Constitution, the Office of the Special Envoy believes that this definition provides an adequate initial guide by which anti-Semitism can eventually both be defined and combated, and therefore presents this "working definition" as a starting point in the fight against anti-Semitism.1

Working definition: "Anti-[S]emitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti[-S]emitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities."
Just keep in mind that the footnote above refers to the inevitable 'fine print' at the bottom of the page:

The recitation of the EUMC "working definition" of anti-Semitism should not be construed as an acceptance of that definition, or the statements and examples thereunder, as United States policy.
True, the fine print tends to undercut the entire endeavor, but the examples given of anti-Semitism are interesting.

Among the general examples of Anti-Semitism are some that pertain to the Arab world in general and Ahmadinejad of Iran in particular--and possibly those who claim the Iraq war was foisted upon the US by the "Israel Lobby":
o Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective - such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.

o Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g., gas chambers), or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).

o Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.

o Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
Here are some of the examples of anti-Semitism as applied to the treatment of Israel--which would apply to Israel's 'peace partners' and again, the Arab world in general, as well as the United Nations:
o Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination (e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor).

o Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

o Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.

o Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
The report also includes the obvious caveat:
However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.
Read the whole thing.

All in all, it's obvious why no one is advertising that such a definition exists.

Sometimes, the biggest strike against a 'working definition' is it actually does work.

Crossposted at Soccer Dad

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