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‘Anti-Semitism Awareness Act’ threatens free speech

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In May the benign-sounding Anti-Semitism Awareness Act appeared before the U.S Congress “to provide for consideration a definition of anti-Semitism for the enforcement of Federal antidiscrimination laws concerning education programs or activities.”

No big deal? Let us see.

Senate 2940 is sponsored by Republican Sen. Tim Scott and has four co-sponsors: Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrats Ron Wyden, Robert Casey, and Michael Bennet. The House sponsor of H.R. 5924 is Republican Rep. Peter Roskam, with 41 cosponsors, 30 Republicans and 11 Democrats. Both bills remain in committee. (The Senate unanimously passed a similar bill two years ago, but it never reached the House floor.)

Right off the bat, the legislation seems odd: under what Republican Party theory of limited government does Congress proposes definitions of words simply for consideration for educational purposes? And I thought Republicans don’t like federal involvement in education. We’ll see that the answer is steeped in irony: the stated purpose is to help education agencies to combat racial discrimination.

While the act is directed at education, the resulting law would reach beyond that realm because it would officially stigmatize as anti-Semitic any speech and activity, public and private, said to fall within the definition. Since this would at least chill the open marketplace of ideas, advocates of free speech should be concerned about the content of the definition and its revealing support material. We must not assume that merely because the definition is said to brand something anti-Semitic that it is actually anti-Semitic.

The act states that Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin” (not, mind you, religion) but that “both the Department of Justice and the Department of Education have properly concluded that title VI prohibits discrimination against Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and members of other religious groups when the discrimination is based on the group’s actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics or when the discrimination is based on actual or perceived citizenship or residence in a country whose residents share a dominant religion or a distinct religious identity” (emphasis added). Hence, those departments have managed to shoehorn religion into a statute that does not mention religion.

The proposed definition directly comes from a 2010 State Department Fact Sheet, which in turn comes, with some modification, from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) “working definition of Anti-Semitism.” The IHRA has 31 member countries, including the United States, and Israel.

Anti-Semitism, according to the IHRA “working definition,” is “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

This may seem less than helpful — history professor David Feldman, director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism at London’s Birkbeck, University, calls it “bewilderingly imprecise — so the IHRA furnished examples (couched in conditional terms such as could and might and to be interpreted by “taking into account the overall context”). And here the problems continue. Writing in the Guardian, Feldman, says of the 11 examples: “Seven deal with criticism of Israel. Some of the points are sensible, some are not. Crucially, there is a danger that the overall effect will place the onus on Israel’s critics to demonstrate they are not antisemitic” (emphasis added). That should be of concern.

Among the possible examples of anti-Semitism quoted from the IHRA document in the State Department Fact Sheet, but with some modification, are:

  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, the state of Israel, or even for acts committed by non-Jews. [Emphasis added.]
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interest of their own nations.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis”
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist.

Two things are worth pointing out here. The phrase “the state of Israel” in first example above does not appear in the IHRA list; that version says only, “Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.” The IHRA does go one to say later that “manifestations might [emphasis added] include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity” but immediately cautions that criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.” The Fact Sheet, which, again, the legislation incorporates, adds, almost as an afterthought, “However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic” (italics in original).

Second, the last example differs from the similar IHRA example, which reads, “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” (emphasis added). I am unaware of criticism of the Fact Sheet or legislation for this key modification. A similar modification has landed the UK’s Labor Party leadership in hot water. (More below.)

As we’ll see, the inclusion of criticism of Israel in the examples is where much of the danger of this legislation lies. Indeed, Antony Lerman, former director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research in Britain, who traces the origin and promotion of the IHRA document to the American Jewish Committee and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, both of which routinely conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, says it was designed to “equate criticisms of Israel with hatred of Jews.” Of course it was; today, being a good anti-anti-Semite, like being a good Jew, means little more than being unswervingly pro-Israel and pro-Israeli repression of Palestinians.

By way of additional background and contrast, the legislation cites a 2010 U.S. Department of Education “Dear Colleague” letter on religious bigotry to state and local educational agencies stating that they “must take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end the harassment, eliminate any hostile environment, and its effects, and prevent the harassment from recurring.” However, the legislation states that letter “did not provide guidance on current manifestations of anti-Semitism, including discriminatory anti-Semitic conduct that is couched as anti-Israel or anti-Zionist” (emphasis added). That’s right: the Education Department did not mention Israel or Zionism in its letter about combating anti-Semitism. So the authors of the legislation seek to “correct” that “shortcoming.”

The legislation goes to state that “anti-Semitism, and harassment on the basis of actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics with a religious group, remains a persistent, disturbing problem in elementary and secondary schools and on college campuses.”

Is that so? It doesn’t ring true. The Pew Research Center “finds that when it comes to religion, Americans generally express more positive feelings toward various religious groups [including Jews] today than they did just a few years ago. Asked to rate a variety of groups on a ‘feeling thermometer’ ranging from 0 to 100, U.S. adults give nearly all groups warmer ratings than they did in a June 2014 Pew Research Center survey.” For all age groups, atheists and Muslims rank far below Jews. (In another survey, Muslims ranked below atheists.) For Americans 30 years and up, Jews rank at or near the top, and the score has risen since 2014. For Americans 18-29, Jews rank just below top-ranking Buddhists, Catholics, and Hindus. No religious group scored more than 69 “degrees” except for, among people 65 and older, Mainline Protestants, Jews, and Catholics, who scored in the 70s. Where’s the widespread anti-Semitism?

And where’s the evidence of growing anti-Semitism on college campuses? The legislation “finds” that “students from a range of diverse backgrounds, including Jewish, Arab Muslim, and Sikh students, are being threatened, harassed, or intimidated in their schools,” but it would be interesting to see the groups broken out. One suspects the atmosphere on campus is more hostile to Arab and Muslim professors and students than to Jews. (See examples here and here.) And we cannot discount the likelihood that criticism of Israel is simply interpreted as criticism of Jews qua Jews. Indeed, the lead author of the IHRA definition, Kenneth Stern, said last year in congressional testimony that it is untrue that “antisemitism on campus is an epidemic. Far from it. There are thousands of campuses in the United States, and in very few is antisemitism – or anti-Israel animus – an issue.”

Anti-Semitism exists, of course, but it’s clearly confined to the fringes of American society. It is so disreputable that people have shied away from criticizing Israel for fear of being accused of Jew-hatred, which can destroy careers and friendships. The legislation seems designed to reinforce that fear, which fortunately has been fading in recent years, especially among younger people, in light of Israel’s periodic military assaults on the essentially defenseless people of Gaza. Every so often the word goes out that anti-Semitism is on the rise, but it’s hard not to notice that those alarms follow the broad international criticism of Israeli systematic brutality against Palestinians resisting the 51-year occupation of their property. As Norman Finkelstein, who monitors this phenomenon closely, writes, “Whenever Israel commits another atrocity, its propagandists stage a revival of the ‘New Anti-Semitism’ extravaganza to deflect or squelch global condemnation.” (See Finkelstein’s book Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History.)

I won’t try to define anti-Semitism; let’s just go with Stephen Sedley’s definition: “Shorn of philosophical and political refinements, anti-Semitism is hostility towards Jews as Jews.” I’ll only add that it has something to do with seeing all Jews as members of a malignant and world-controlling racial or ethnic entity, with each member being responsible for any wrongdoing, real or imagined, by any other Jew. This is rank collectivism that no liberal individualist will accept. We must note the irony, however, that many Jews themselves believe that all Jews without exception constitute a genetic entity, though this is patently absurd. Jews are of many races, ethnicities, nationalities, and cultures and until a couple of hundred years into the Common Era, Judaism was a proselytizing religion with many successes at converting whole kingdoms, nations, and tribes. In other words, many Jews today are descendants of people who converted to Judaism, sometimes unwillingly, and who never were in the Land of Israel.

Note further the irony of the legislation’s condemnation of those who conflate all Jews with the state of Israel. Israel’s recently passed Nation-State Law declares that the “land of Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people.” That includes all Jews no matter where they were born, where they live now, or whether they ever set foot in Israel. In other words, the government of Israel claims to speak for all Jews, which is an affront to any Jew who does not wish to be spoken for by a foreign government or who no longer regards himself as a Jew. (If the Jewish people are not a racial or ethnic entity but a diverse religious group, one can, like Spinoza, stop being a Jew.) It would be wrong for anyone to presume that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks for or acts on behalf of American, British, French, and other non-Israeli Jews, but that is what Israel’s Basic Law claims. (Former Meet the Press host David Gregory once addressed Netanyahu on the air as the “leader of the Jewish people.)

And this claim, which predates the Nation-State Law, is what has given rise to the (dual) loyalty suspicion. So we have yet another irony in The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act’s condemnation of statements “accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interest of their own nations.” A great way to dispose of the loyalty issue would be for Israel and its supporters to stop pretending it represents all Jews (and former Jews) everywhere.

As noted, the legislation says that “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist” is anti-Semitic. But what about denying the Jewish people the right to self-determination on land taken from its rightful owners, as Jewish and non-Jewish anti-Zionists have long denied? And when will Congress get around to condemning those who deny the right of Palestinians to self-determination? The Nation-State law says that the “right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” So Palestinians are lesser people than Jews? What’s the word for that attitude?

The condemnation of people who “apply[] double standards by requiring of it [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” is also filled with problems. The first is that Israel’s unconditional defenders themselves are guilty of applying a double standard. If any national group treated another group the way the Zionists and Israelis have treated the Palestinians, they would have been condemned by liberal-minded Jewish Americans along with most other Americans. Second, where is the double standard in the criticism of Israel? Name another country that occupies other people’s land, recognizes no rights in the occupied population, systematically discriminates against 25 percent of its “citizens,” gets billion in military aid every year from American taxpayers, has a highly influential lobby ready to smear any critic, claims to be the most moral military in world, and insists it’s the only democracy in its region? When we have another country like that we’ll see if Israel’s critics apply a double standard.

The example of anti-Semitism allegedly found in “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is also worth examination. Is it really the case that Israel’s rulers are incapable of acting like Nazis, even when it seizes Palestinians, including children, in the dark of night, holds them indefinitely without charge; tortures them; shoots them or break their bones when they protest their oppression peacefully; requires internal travel permits; maintains military checkpoints; bars them from much of the land and Jewish-only roads; and destroys homes as collective punishment or to clear land for use by Jews only? What’s the theory underlying that claim? Do the oppressed never become oppressors?

And here’s another question: are Jews who make that comparison also anti-Semites? The fact is that Jews have repeatedly made that comparison, for example, the late Hajo Meyer, a Holocaust survivor, and Yair Golan, the former deputy chief of the general staff of the Israel Defense Force. Indeed, in 1948 Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt, and other Jews sent a letter to the New York Times expressing concern over the emergence of the Israeli “‘Freedom Party’ (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.” That party and the Irgun were led by Menachem Begin, who became prime minister of Israel in the 1970s. The party merged with Netanyahu’s Likud party in 1988.

Yet one more question: if neither Jews nor non-Jews may liken Israeli policies against the Palestinians to some Nazi policies, why are Israelis and their supporters allowed to claim that any and all perceived adversaries (Nasser, Saddam Hussein, Qaddafi, and Ahmadinejad and the Iranian ayatollahs, for example) are reincarnations of Adolf Hitler?

Since Jews as well as non-Jews often commit the “offenses” specified by the IHRA, maybe the congressional legislation should have been called the Anti-Semitism and Jewish Self-Hatred Awareness Act. Or perhaps only men and women with Jewish mothers are to be permitted to do what is forbidden to others. That would be odd view indeed.

No, the Israeli regime does not operate death camps, but it does things that resemble what the Nazi and other totalitarian regimes did to Jews and other groups. Gaza, where the more-than-decade-old Israeli blockade causes two million Palestinians, half of them children, to be undernourished and forced to drink polluted water, has been called a concentration camp and a ghetto by Jews.

Real anti-Semitism is ugly and execrable. And that’s why diluting the concept with extraneous elements is what’s really dangerous. Sure, some of Israel’s critics could be anti-Semites, but some of Israel’s biggest fans are too. I would be suspicious of anyone who was eager to pack my bags and shuffle me off to Tel Aviv. There simply are no reasonable grounds for a presumption of anti-Semitism about opponents of Israel, certainly not in people of good faith. Conflating anti-Semitism even with foundational criticism of Israel makes anti-Semitism seem not so bad in some people’s eyes. As Antony Lerman wrote, “Rather than make it easier to identify antisemitism, the promotion of the ‘working definition’ and the entrenchment of the concept of the ‘new antisemitism’ have so extended the range of expressions of what can be regarded as antisemitic that the word antisemitism has come close to losing all meaning.”

Why would anyone want to encourage that outcome? Lerman also points out that “if … only ‘antisemities’ would dissociate themselves from the ‘working definition,’ this places a significant number of highly respected Jewish and non-Jewish academics working in the field of antisemitism research in the dock.”

Those who continue to lobby for this conflation are unwittingly pursuing an evil course even on their own terms — unless they intend such an outcome. (Real or imagined anti-Semitism can be useful in deterring Jewish assimilation and disillusionment with Israel.) Moreover, they are encouraging organizations that harass students and teachers sympathetic to the Palestinians’ plight. Free speech and inquiry must be protected. As the ACLU said about the legislation:

The overbroad definition of anti-Semitism in this bill risks incorrectly equating constitutionally protected criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, making it likely that free speech will be chilled on campuses. The examples incorporated into the bill’s definition of anti-Semitism include actions and statements critical of Israel, including many constitutionally protected statements. As a result, the proposed legislation is likely to chill the speech of students, faculty, and other members campus communities around the country, and is unnecessary to enforce federal prohibitions on harassment in education as such protections already exist under federal law.

As the ACLU letter opposing the legislation notes, even the lead author of the definition, Kenneth Stern, a self-described Zionist, “has himself opposed application of this definition to campus speech.” In a 2016 op-ed opposing South Carolina’s adoption of the definition, Stern wrote,

It is really an attempt to create a speech code about Israel. It is an unnecessary law which will hurt Jewish students and the academy…. It was never intended as a vehicle to monitor or suppress speech on campus. But that’s what some right-wing Jewish groups and individuals behind this legislation seek…

[The legislation advocates’] intent is clear: to have the state define a line where political speech about Israel is classified as anti-Semitic, and chilled if not suppressed….

If the definition becomes law, campus administrators will fear lawsuits when outside groups complain about anti-Israel expression, and the leadership of the university doesn’t punish, stop or denounce it….

[I]f the anti-Semitism definition is enshrined into law, what professor will want to walk into this minefield, fearful that the selection of certain texts or the expression of certain opinions will put his or her university’s funding in jeopardy?

Indeed, if certain expressions about Israel are officially defined as anti-Semitic, pro-Israel Jewish students will be further marginalized, having gained the reputation for suppressing, rather than answering, speech they don’t like.

In 2017 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Stern elaborated:

The proponents of the legislation have made a business model of seeking out speech they believe transgresses the Department of State Definition. They will hunt for such instances and then press administrators to either suppress or condemn such statements, threatening Title VI cases if they don’t act, with the added weight of a Congressionally-endorsed, campus-focused definition behind them…. Armed with a congressional determination that effectively says campus anti-Zionism is antisemitism, … professors will correctly see themselves at risk when they ask their students to read and digest materials deemed anti-Zionist, whether the writings of leading 20th century Jewish thinkers who were skeptical of Zionism, such as Hannah Arendt and Martin Buber, or of contemporary Palestinians. Professors do not get combat pay. It will be safer and wiser for them to teach about Jews in the shtetl than Jews in modern Israel, and Zionism as a concept from the late 19th century, rather than how it plays out today…. My fear is, if we … enshrine this definition into law, outside groups will try and suppress – rather than answer – political speech they don’t like. The academy, Jewish students, and faculty teaching about Jewish issues, will all suffer.

The definition has also been faulted, as Lerman put it, for its “go-it-alone exceptionalism as the way of managing heightened fears of antisemitism, rather than pursuing open-hearted collaboration with other minority groups to fight the resurgent racism that blights society.”

If the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act passes and is signed into law, it would threaten free speech in the academy and beyond, notwithstanding its obligatory “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to diminish or infringe upon any right protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”

Moreover, it will make political campaigns even less meaningful than they are now. As it is, American politicians are afraid to defend the Palestinians against Israel or to question the huge annual military appropriation that enables the brutality; candidates have much to lose both in campaign contributions and reputation. Those who slip, like Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, will have hell to pay and will likely be more careful in the future. (Sanders has had his ups as well as downs.) The UK Labor Party and its leader, the life-long anti-racist Jeremy Corbyn, are learning the same lesson.

We must hope that things do not get as bad in the US as they are in the UK, where a hysterical smear campaign against Israel’s critics has conjured up the term “political anti-Semitism targeting Israel” (in contrast to “racial antisemitism targeting Jews”) and alarm in some quarters about the alleged “existential threat to Jewish life in this country [Great Britain] that would be posed by a Jeremy Corbyn-led government.” The Labor Party’s National Executive Committee has been accused of Jew-hatred because its new code of conduct on anti-Semitism allegedly failed to incorporate the entire IHRA definition of anti-Semitism — hence, its apparent cowardly retreat. Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian tweeted, “So Labour have rejected a definition of antisemitism accepted by UK, Scottish and Welsh govts, 124 local authorities, gov’ts around the world and most Jews.”

Note the authority Freedland, like others, vests in the now-holy IHRA definition — as though it were an amendment to the tablets allegedly handed down at Mount Sinai.

But Lerman shows that Freedland’s charge is utter rubbish; the executive committee’s code explicitly incorporates and quotes the definition, but the authors modified some of the IHRA’s examples and (like the State Department’s Fact Sheet) removed from another the phrase “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

But can it be anti-Semitic to call Israel a racist endeavor when leading Israeli intellectuals such as historian Benny Morris acknowledge that ridding Palestine of the indigenous Palestinians — that is, ethnic cleansing — was intrinsic to Zionism?

Lerman also shows, as already noted, that by its own word choices, the IHRA suggests that its illustrations may or may not qualify as examples of anti-Semitism depending on the context. Lerman notes that defenders of the definition make opposing claims — that the examples both are and are not part of the definition — depending on which position is convenient at the time.

Clearly, the Labor Party leadership stands accused of anti-Semitism purely for adopting a code of conduct that distinguishes anti-Semitism from criticism of Israel.

Is this sort of smear campaign that is in store for members of Congress who vote against the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act?

This post first appeared on the Libertarian Institute site.

Sheldonrichman
About Sheldon Richman

Sheldon Richman is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute; keeper of the blog Free Association (https://sheldonrichman.com); former editor of The Freeman.

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37 Responses

  1. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw
    August 26, 2018, 2:21 pm

    I do not know how the Labour party NEC can incorporate all the examples included in the IHRA definition, especially the one that asserts it is Anti Semitic to claim that the state of Israel is a racist endeavor. Its 1950 basic law of return only to people of Jewish origin is inherently racist, the latest recently passed and racist nation state law is proof positive that Israel is a blatantly racist state. If the party outlaw criticism of the Israeli state on these grounds the Labour party will not survive, and would not deserve to. Meanwhile Jewish MP’s are arranging bodyguards for Labours conference in Liverpool next month…
    The Mail on Sunday understands that the Jewish Labour Movement, whose Parliamentary chair is Ms Berger, has held talks with the Community Security Trust – which guards the Jewish community in Britain – about providing minders for the Liverpool conference http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6098375/Bodyguards-Jewish-delegates-Labour-conference.html
    Another Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth had 50 other MP’s escort her to a hearing at which Mark Wadsworth was accused of Anti Semitic behavior toward her [he did not know she was Jewish] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5655205/Labour-MPs-escort-Jewish-MP-Ruth-Smeeth-Westminster-antisemitism-hearing.html

  2. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw
    August 26, 2018, 2:44 pm

    Luciana Berger is described as Chair of the parliamentary Jewish Labour Movement [JLM] how many Labour members are aware that the JLM is an affiliate both of the Israeli Labour Party which in office has promoted the building of settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territories and the World Zionist Organization, which has channelled funds to the illegal settlements. That’s right the JLM are affiliated with groups who the Geneva Conventions, the ICC and the ICJ [the world court, in the latter all 15 judges including the US Judge] unanimously gave their opinion [in the wall case] that the transfer of civilians into occupied territory were grave war crimes. The UK Labour party sure keep some nice company.

    • inbound39
      inbound39
      August 27, 2018, 6:31 pm

      Harry I agree with everything you say in your contributions in comments on this article. It has been known that,for some time, Israel has been infiltrating the American Government to the point it no longer represents American Interests. It now pursues what is best for Zionist Israel and provides cover for maintaining cover and protection of its immunity for War Crimes committed against Palestinians. It supplies the abundance of weaponry Israel uses against Palestinians, Syrians and Lebonese.

      It has grown now and Israel is targeting UK and EU governments so it can manipulate them in the same manner as it manipulates the American Government. It has targeted the Australian Government and has all but acquired control of it. It will most certainly target NZ government shortly as Friends of Israel have been getting more and more vocal here.

      From where I sit and many others , I am sure are thinking the same, see Israel seizing control of the World by infiltrating their governments so they do the bidding of Israel. By manipulation, Israel is taking over World Power without a shot being fired hence we have hundreds of thousands of refugees being created as Israel manipulates governments to attack Syria so it can take over more land….Lebanon is also on Israels list. Look at the plan for GREATER ISRAEL and look at where ALL the unrest is.

      It is time for the global population to recognise what is happening here and put an end to it by sanctioning Israel until it ends its meddling and that it returns to within its declared borders and withdraws completely from Palestinian territory. There should be NO support for the Apartheid State of Israel. Our freedom is at stake here and none of us want to be ruled by Israel. It is NOT what we voted for.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        August 27, 2018, 8:27 pm

        “see Israel seizing control of the World by infiltrating their governments so they do the bidding of Israel. ”

        You realise this is one of those tropey things, don’t you?

        (I agree with you, of course, but I am a well-known anti-Everything.
        See you in the re-education camp.)

  3. Keith
    Keith
    August 26, 2018, 3:13 pm

    SHELDON RICHMAN- “Is this sort of smear campaign that is in store for members of Congress who vote against the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act?”

    Does a bear you-know-what in the woods? Both the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act and the IHRA definition are fundamentally anti-Gentile. Both definitions draw upon the ideology of Classical (medieval) Judaism which depicts non-Jews as inherently anti-Semitic, hence, any criticism of Jewish behavior is explained as anti-Semitic. These definitions are testament to the LACK of anti-Semitism. Only a powerful group not worried about reprisals would have the audacity to throw their biases in the face of the non-Jewish majority. Any unbiased measurement of Jewish well being would likely demonstrate that, as a group, Jews have above average power and privilege. Also, I strongly suspect that Jewish anti-Gentilism greatly exceeds any anti-Semitism. And these definitions will be used to buttress numerous law suits by this group of aggressive power-seekers.

    • oldgeezer
      oldgeezer
      August 26, 2018, 8:51 pm

      Absolutely. Zionists will quickly and I believe they honestly feel that sincerely believe that the definition allows for robust debate and criticism about Israeli policies. That said, just try it. Robust debate and criticism must fall between center right and extremist right. You would likely be allowed to argue whether Sharon was better/worse than Netanyahu as long as you didn’t say anything bad about either.

      I disagree with comparing Israeli policies with nazis as the offense caused is obvious. It’s also unnecessary as Israel is perpetrating gross evil in it’s own right. No comparison needed. That said what is wrong with comparing policies invoked by the nazis with those invoked by Israel other than it causes offense? I am sensitive to that but to call it off limits? No….. Get over it. You don’t have a right to be not offended. No one does. There is no zionist exception to that.

      Israel is a blight on the world. It doesn’t have to be but it is. That is the choice it’s citizens and supporters are making. The buck stops with them.

  4. Maghlawatan
    Maghlawatan
    August 26, 2018, 4:42 pm

    The IHRA definition should be put to a vote of Labour members for a laugh. Zionism has got its way for far too long.

  5. John Douglas
    John Douglas
    August 26, 2018, 5:50 pm

    So, claiming that a US citizen cares more about Israel than about the US is anti-Semitic? A couple of things: Does that apply to American citizens who are also Israeli citizens? Are we now required, if the topic comes up, to earnestly state that all dual citizens either support the US and Israel equally or support the US more? Would I be required to claim, if the topic came up, that, contrary to the most common of common sense, liberal Ron Wyden is doing America’s business and not Israel’s in promoting this bill? That he is not proposing to weaken 1st amendment rights to counter-act the non-violent BDS movement. And do the supporting Senators approve of the Birthright program that tells American Jewish students that Israel, not the US, is their true homeland. And will I be required by Federal Law to never state that the birthright movement succeeded in even one case?

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      August 27, 2018, 1:29 am

      One thing you mustn’t do is suggest that this proposed bill is being pushed by some sort of Jewish lobby. That would be anti-Semitic.

  6. edwardm
    edwardm
    August 26, 2018, 7:27 pm

    “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis”
    here’s a thought. in order to g̶o̶o̶s̶e̶s̶t̶e̶p̶ sidestep such comparisons, try NOT
    – dressing like Nazis
    https://s19453.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/20180513_1330321-e1527477253128.jpg
    – talking like them
    https://www.aljazeera.com/mritems/imagecache/mbdxxlarge/mritems/Images/2018/2/13/3dc39d391aa24d0d9d63e9a3ab88b82a_18.jpg
    – behaving like them
    https://occupiedpalestine.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/israeli-settlers-taunt-palestinian-woman1.jpg?w=588
    instead of trying to trample on American civil rights

    • genesto
      genesto
      August 27, 2018, 6:04 pm

      You might also stop selling arms to Neo-Nazis in Hungary, Poland and the Ukraine. And stop treating white nationalists like Donald Trump, ‘first cousins’ to Neo-Nazis, as allies, and even heroes (see monuments to Trump in Israel).

  7. JWalters
    JWalters
    August 26, 2018, 7:44 pm

    Some of the clear and present dangers of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act could be avoided by adding a “Bill of Rights” section, to protect freedom of speech as clearly intended in the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. For example,

    Amendment 1

    It will be illegal (libel or slander) to accuse someone of anti-Semitism for criticizing SPECIFIC acts or policies of the state of Israel.

    Amendment 2

    It will be illegal (libel or slander) to accuse someone of anti-Semitism who points to evidence that a SPECIFIC person is putting Israel’s interests above America’s interests.

    The above types of criticism are clearly NOT directed at ALL Jews, and therefore clearly NOT anti-Semitism. Amendment 1 would allow for the type of normal political debate intended by the Constitution. Amendment 2 would allow for the accusation and trial of someone like Jonathan Pollard, a convicted Israeli spy. Other such amendments may also be appropriate.

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus
      August 27, 2018, 12:32 am

      Walters,

      The more amendments you add, the more you would confirm the clueless in their belief that some limitation of speech may be right.

      No, the only Amendment to such a blatant violation of the most fundamental right and liberty can be just this: that no speech may be banned any time, and that this applies to nonsense like “Antisemitism Act”.

      As for refusing to serve, promote, etc. “Jewish” persons just because of their accident of birth, that’s already covered under “origin” and there has been a law dealing with that for a long time.

      • JWalters
        JWalters
        August 27, 2018, 4:43 am

        echinococcus, I see your point. The point of the amendment tactic is to render their restrictions empty by a counterattack in kind. It would also show up their absurdity. A second effect is to highlight the fraudulent nature of their “anti-Semite” accusations. Your points should still definitely be a central part of the debate. Your wording may want to account for the case of a fraudulent “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Discussions should definitely not be banned.

  8. RoHa
    RoHa
    August 27, 2018, 1:32 am

    “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist”

    What happens to those of us who deny that any “people” other than the inhabitants of a territory have a right to self-determination?
    And those who deny that any state has a right to exist?

    Re-education camps again?

    • annie
      annie
      August 27, 2018, 1:34 am

      heads up, there are no ‘rights of existence’ for states. just thought i’d point that out — again! they simply do not exist (the rights that is, not the states). in fact, last i heard, there are no rights of existence period. something either exists or it doesn’t. ie: rocks exist, it’s a fact of life. however, they don’t have a ‘right’ to do so. funny how that is. same with air. it just friggin exists, no right to tho.

      i don’t even have a right to exist, but once i do exist, then i have certain rights as a human being. other rights as an american. lots of rights to be had, but no rights of existence last i heard.

      the sun and the moon, no right to exist! same with israel, kinda. the former might be considered more permanent, if you know what i mean.

      • JWalters
        JWalters
        August 27, 2018, 4:49 am

        Annie, completely agree. States are like corporations, legal entities that are creations of people. Like corporations, they can be dissolved with no harm to any person. Conflating the state of Israel with a person is like conflating Zionism with Judaism, another attempt at a verbal swindle. It’s an attempt to win a debate by presupposing their conclusion. Their outrage over this is equally fake, and deserves to be simply ignored.

    • Talkback
      Talkback
      August 27, 2018, 4:56 am

      RoHa: “What happens to those of us who deny that any “people” other than the inhabitants of a territory have a right to self-determination?”

      Well that’s the problem, isn’t it? The racist Zionists can only think in terms of Jewish and Nonjewish. They can’t formulate a single universal principle which applies to all people, especially constitutive people (which Jews are not).

      Palestinians should come up with their own definition of anti-Palestinianism:
      To deny the people of Palestine to exercise their right to self determination in the whole of their country.
      To deny the people of Palestine to leave and return to their country and acquire citizenship.

  9. Brewer
    Brewer
    August 27, 2018, 4:26 am

    Precisely. And even more obviously, no state has a right to exist as a racist state.
    The World turned up a blind, egregious alley when the U.N., in contravention of its charter, proposed the partition of sovereignty against the wishes of its indigenous people.
    It was wrong. It remains wrong. It will be forever wrong.
    The rise of this logically unsustainable concept of “Antisemitism” is is one of those aberrations of History, a false meme such as “white man’s burden” – designed to annihilate resistance to supremacist ideals, adopted as a mantra by the criminal Zionists.
    Taken to extremes, all things become their opposites.
    The “Jewish State” has become the very symbol of what it purported to oppose.
    Here is what I think of “Antisemitism”:
    ” I see. I don’t fight you because you entered my home, shot my father and forced my mother down the road with nothing but what she could carry. I don’t fight you because you have stolen my land. I fight you because I hate Jews! I am antisemitic. Thanks for clearing that up.”

    A very useful weapon in the Zionist armory – until we tell them to stick it where the monkey stuck his nuts.

  10. CigarGod
    CigarGod
    August 27, 2018, 11:04 am

    Just another awesome business opportunity where a lot of folks get a slice of the pie.

    Gotta hire more cops, gotta train them in detecting bad talkers. Need more judges. Private prisons get to house ’em. Anti-semitism counselors get to counsel them.
    Gotta start new education programs so we can staff new censor positions. Newscasters gotta go to camps to learn new skills.
    Gotta invade countries who don’t comply and take their shit…I mean sanction them.
    Damn!
    I’m moving everything into government backed bonds.

  11. Misterioso
    Misterioso
    August 27, 2018, 11:29 am

    Interesting recent Haaretz article:

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-if-trump-falls-some-testimonies-could-spark-anti-semitic-backlash-1.6412943

    “If Trump falls, the testimonies of Cohen, Pecker and Weisselberg could spark an anti-Semitic backlash,”
    Haaretz, Aug. 26/18 – By Chemi Shalev

    EXCERPT:
    “The trio’s public profile is a Jewish stereotype: the lawyer-fixer, the smut-dealing publisher and the numbers whiz who knows it all.”

    “The name of the lawyer who implicated Donald Trump in the commission of federal crimes is Cohen. The name of the publisher who has agreed to tell investigators how he turned his newspaper into a clearinghouse…”

  12. Maghlawatan
    Maghlawatan
    August 27, 2018, 2:37 pm

    This lawfare attempt to muzzle criticism of Israel is a joke. Did Dixieland ever try to legislate against Yankee criticism of slavery? Could it have possibly worked and saved slavery? The law is not a suitable vehicle with which to solve Israel’s PR nightmare. It is not possible to force anyone to respect Israel. And as for Labour Friends of Israel- Israel doesn’t have friends. It has whores.

    • Boomer
      Boomer
      August 29, 2018, 7:27 am

      I understand why you would call the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act a joke, but I respectfully disagree. I think it may well have pernicious effects on the United States. I doubt that its influence will be limited to educational discourse, including textbooks, though even that will, in the long run, be bad enough.

      I can imagine that schools and universities may start to block internet access to this site and others, for example. ISPs and social media sites may do so, as well. After all, President Trump has attacked Google and said that regulation may be necessary:

      “I think that Google and Twitter and Facebook, they are really treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful,” Trump said.”

      Now that Net Neutrality is gone, ISPs have no obligation to connect paying customers with all content, and they often face incentives to block “objectionable” content. Numerous private-sector organizations will provide lists of offending sites, and will lobby for blocking them. The U.S. government already has a legally-mandated Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism; that official can provide assistance in this effort.

      Once the terms of what is acceptable are defined officially, the ban will likely spread. U.S. news media already observe an unwritten rule regarding Israel that is not unlike the one being considered by Congress. Once approved by Congress and signed by the President, it will have even greater force and scope.

      I’m old enough to remember the “McCarthy Era.” It can happen here.

      • Maghlawatan
        Maghlawatan
        August 29, 2018, 10:47 am

        I just can’t see Zionism silencing the goys on Israel. They just don’t have enough people given the rate at which Israeli society is rotting. Their spiel is so open- they buy legislation because they do not have the people. They are pathetic.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 29, 2018, 1:08 pm

        In a Trump-vs.-Google fight, I’d bet on Google.

      • Boomer
        Boomer
        August 29, 2018, 3:57 pm

        It would be more than Trump vs. Google. It would be the Lobby that secured the passage of the Act vs. large sectors of society: education, media, tech. It may seem impossible that the Lobby could get much traction, and perhaps it is. But discourse in those sectors on this topic is already limited. I think the Act could have a real effect in shifting terms of “acceptable” debate and discourse. Facebook, Paypal, Twitter, Google, et al. have taken steps against the Alt-Right. It wouldn’t take much to shift perceptions such that sites like this one also become perceived as problematic. To us here, the difference may be obvious, but I’m not sure the Lobby will see it the way we do. And I’m not sure the Lobby that passes the Act will be unable to capitalize on it.

        https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/16/google-and-facebook-are-standing-up-to-neo-nazis-and-other-hate-groups.html

  13. amigo
    amigo
    August 27, 2018, 3:04 pm

    Jeremy Corbyn being smeared by Tory minister which includes an accusation of him being a traitor.Fortunately the BBC host trashes the UK minister.(wonders will never cease).

    The second half ,(8 mins) shows Jill Stein being smeared by an MSNBC “Interrogator”.

    • JWalters
      JWalters
      August 27, 2018, 7:30 pm

      Great video, thanks! Let’s hope this BBC interviewer is marking a turn in Britain’s media, away from kneeling to the sleezy side of Zionism.

      Jill Stein’s MSNBC “interrogator” sounds like she’s been getting training from the Israelis. She still needs more practice though. She needs more indignation to cover up the amazing emptiness of her mind.

      Jill Stein showed the intelligence, straightforwardness, and temperament to be a good president. Her presence in the last election enabled me to vote, since I absolutely could not bear to vote for the Zionist gangsters financing Hillary (it takes 500 demolished Palestinian villages to raise an Israeli child).

      • amigo
        amigo
        August 27, 2018, 7:55 pm

        J Walters , glad you enjoyed it.I am so weary of the usual slanderous zios running unchecked on British MSM.Not so much on US MSM as I can only access one US channel here in Ireland but unfortunately that is CNN.Clearly, I do not rely on them for facts about the ME .

        The Trump bashing works a treat for me though.

      • Bumblebye
        Bumblebye
        August 27, 2018, 10:59 pm

        Sorry JWalters, but Andrew Neill lost his gig withThe Daily Politics shortly after this – despite being a Tory himself and having fronted the program for over 20 years!

      • JWalters
        JWalters
        August 28, 2018, 6:57 pm

        Bumblebye, thanks for that info, and sorry to hear it. But I had been wondering if that would happen. This is how the Zionist Big Brother keeps reporters and editors frightened and obedient. “Tell the truth about us and you’re fired!”

        I’m extremely grateful for Andrew Neill’s courage, for this video, and hope he will find a way to continue deploying his courage and credibility in the fight for Justice against evil. “Remember Andrew Neill!”

  14. Boomer
    Boomer
    August 27, 2018, 3:43 pm

    re: “if the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act passes and is signed into law”

    Given our current Congress and President, it’s hard to believe this won’t happen. Perhaps (I’m clutching at straws), having supported this will someday far in the future be seen as a betrayal of traditional American values, as well as of the Palestinian people.

  15. Hemlockroid
    Hemlockroid
    August 27, 2018, 4:45 pm

    The law is stupid in that it may be the Zionism of a Protestant Zionist that Im critisizing, not the Zionism of a Jew. P.S. it will always be legal to criticize modern Zionism.

  16. Maghlawatan
    Maghlawatan
    August 28, 2018, 2:02 am

    This development is supposed to make Israel bulletproof as the nuclear weapons are supposed to. The future of Israel cannot be bought by a few plutocrats. It depends on the political decisions made by the muppets in charge in tel aviv. Nobody knows how vulnerable Israel is because nobody cares about the ordinary schmucks in Israel. Nobody knows how to extricate Israel from Gaza, the Jewish Vietnam. Israel is a racket

  17. Qualtrough
    Qualtrough
    August 29, 2018, 4:05 am

    “Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interest of their own nations.”

    Sheldon, cough, Adelson

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