House Democrats to Urge Blinken: Use All Antisemitism Definitions at Your Disposal

Several liberal Zionist organizations have previously cautioned that the IHRA definition of antisemitism conflates legitimate criticism of Israel and advocacy for Palestinian rights with antisemitism

Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
Washington
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Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
Washington

WASHINGTON – Several House Democrats will urge U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to use the various definitions of antisemitism at his disposal, Haaretz has learned.

Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Mark Pocan, Andy Levin, Jamie Raskin and Pramila Jayapal plan on encouraging Blinken to use other tools at his disposal to combat antisemitism beyond the contentious International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's working definition of antisemitism.

Several liberal Zionist organizations have previously cautioned that the definition conflates legitimate criticism of Israel and advocacy for Palestinian rights with antisemitism.

"Two new definitions of antisemitism have been formulated and embraced by the Jewish community since the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) adopted a non-legally binding definition of antisemitism in 2016," the lawmakers write to their fellow lawmakers. "However, the Trump Administration began using the IHRA definition in contexts throughout the federal government, including as the working definition for the Department of State."

The lawmakers highlight the Nexus Document and Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism as two such tools that Blinken can use beyond the IHRA definition, though they do not explicitly reject the IHRA definition in their letter.

Blinken has previously said the Biden administration "enthusiastically embraces" the IHRA working definition in its work to combat antisemitism and other forms of intolerance.

They are currently circulating the letter, which has been supported by Americans for Peace Now and J Street, to their colleagues encouraging them to sign on to the Blinken-addressed letter by Tuesday.

"In carrying out this critical work, we urge you to consider multiple definitions of antisemitism, including two new definitions that have been formulated and embraced by the Jewish community," the letter to be sent to Blinken reads.

They describe the Nexus definition as a "guide for policymakers and community leaders as they grapple with the complexities at the intersection of Israel and antisemitism," while describing the JDA as "a tool to identify, confront and raise awareness about antisemitism as it manifests in countries around the world today."

"These two efforts are the work of hundreds of scholars and experts in the fields of antisemitism, Israel and Middle East Policy, and Jewish communal affairs, and have been helpful to us as we grapple with these complex issues," the letter to Blinken reads. "We believe that the Administration should, in addition to the IHRA definition, consider these two important documents as resources to help guide your thinking and actions when addressing issues of combatting antisemitism."

Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the White House, today.Credit: Evan Vucci,AP

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