The definition of anti-Semitism was at the center of a battle of words Monday involving campus protests about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
This comes as some Jewish students say that protests against Israels occupation of the West Bank have had anti-Semitic overtones that they contend makes some American universities, including UC campuses, a hostile environment. Meanwhile, activists against Israeli policies, including some Jewish faculty and students, say such claims of anti-Semitism are an attempt to squelch any criticism of Israel.
The debate focused specifically on the U.S. State Departments definition of anti-Semitism. That definition defines more general ethnic and religious hatred against Jews but also declares that it is anti-Semitic to demonize Israel, deny Israels right to exist, liken Israeli policy to that of the Nazis and blame Israel for all inter-religious tensions.
On Monday, 57 rabbis from California and 104 University of California faculty members called on UC administrators to adopt that State Department definition when dealing with protests and potential discipline for anti-Semitic statements. They said they did not aim to silence free speech, but they contend that too often protests against Israel have turned into inciting anti-Jewish attitudes.
In a letter to UC President Janet Napolitano and the UC regents, the rabbis urged that campus leaders be trained in using the State Department definition to identify anti-Semitic behavior and to address it with the same promptness and vigor as they do other forms of racial, ethnic and gender bigotry and discrimination.
In contrast, an open letter signed by more than 250 members of the Jewish Voice for Peace Academic Advisory Council asked the U.S. State Department to revise its definition of anti-Semitism to prevent it from being used to silence critics of Israel. The interfaith group that supports calls for peace talks between Palestinians and Israel, an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and security for both sides said that it is important to distinguish criticism of Israel from real anti-Semitism. The letter also said the State Department should drop the definitions references to demonizing Israel and applying double standards to its policies.
Meanwhile, the Palestine Solidarity Legal Support organization and the Center for Constitutional Rights released a report that said that more student activists are being wrongly described as anti-Semitic for their support of Palestinian rights. The groups said that they have received many requests from students and faculty in California and around the country who contend they have been identified as terrorists or terrorism supporters for speaking out against Israels treatment of Palestinians.
Napolitano and other UC leaders in March issued a statement condemning anti-Semitic incidents on UC campuses, as have student governments at UCLA and UC Berkeley recently. UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein said it was too early to say whether the regents would adopt the State Department definition but that several people from the public are expected to speak on the matter at the regents meeting in San Francisco this week.
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Definition of anti-Semitism provokes campus debates – LA Times
The biennial Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism issued statements recommending steps for governments and websites to reduce cyber hate, and for European governments to reduce anti-Semitism.
Given the pervasive, expansive and transnational nature of the internet and the viral nature of hate materials, counter-speech alone is not a sufficient response to cyber hate. The right to free expression does not require or obligate the internet industry to disseminate hate materials. They too are moral actors, free to pursue internet commerce in line with ethics, social responsibility, and a mutually agreed code of conduct, read a statement issued Thursday night in Jerusalem by the Forum, which is run by Israels Foreign Ministry.
Among the recommendations to Internet providers: to adopt a clear industry standard for defining hate speech and anti-Semitism; adopt global terms of service prohibiting the posting of such materials; provide an effective complaint process and maintain a timely and professional response capacity; and ban Holocaust denial sites from the Web as a form of egregious hate speech.
Recommendations to governments include: establishing a national legal unit responsible for combating cyber hate; making stronger use of existing laws to prosecute cyber hate and online anti-Semitism, and enhancing the legal basis for prosecution where such laws are absent; and adopting stronger laws and penalties for the prohibition of Internet materials promoting terrorism and supporting recruitment to terrorist groups.
The forum also addressed the upsurge of anti-Semitism in Europe.
European institutions and governments need to take strong proactive steps to address the current outbreak of anti-Semitism in order to assure the continued vibrancy of Jewish communal life in Europe, read a statement issued Thursday.
Among the recommendations for combating anti-Semitism: adopt a formal definition of anti-Semitism applicable throughout the European Union and its member states under law including reference to attacks on the legitimacy of the State of Israel and its right to exist, and Holocaust denial as forms of anti-Semitism; apply agreed standardized mechanisms for monitoring and recording incidents of anti-Semitism in all EU countries; take urgent and sustained steps to assure the physical security of Jewish communities, their members and institutions; and direct education ministries to increase teacher training and adopt pedagogic curricula against anti-Semitism, and towards religious tolerance and Holocaust remembrance.
The three-day conference hosted a panel of prominent Muslim leaders and imams from Europe who came to speak out about anti-Semitism in Europe. The opening of the conference featured addresses by the mayor of Paris and the German justice minister.
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Jerusalem forum recommends new laws on cyberhate, anti …
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Netanyahu denounces ‘resurgent’ anti-Semitism – Yahoo News
Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced a resurgence in anti-Semitism both in the Middle East and in the West, in a speech on Tuesday at a forum about the problem.
“Today there is no doubt that we are living in an age of resurgent anti-Semitism,” Netanyahu said at the opening of the fifth Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism.
“Jews everywhere are once again being slandered and vilified,” he said.
“It’s taking place in Beirut, in Damascus, in Tehran. But it’s also taking place, violently so, in Toulouse, in Paris, in Brussels,” said the Israeli leader.
Other speakers at the forum included German Justice Minister Heiko Maas and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.
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Benjamin Netanyahu Denounces ‘Resurgent’ Anti-Semitism
Anti-Semitism has reached “critical mass” in Europe, and stands at its worst levels globallysince the 1930s,a senior anti-hate campaigner has warned.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva at the 5th Global Forumfor Combating Anti-Semitism on Wednesday,ADL National Director AbrahamFoxman said that although anti-Semitism was not yet at the same levels as it was immediately prior to the holocaust, Jews are certainly being subjected to the worst levels of hatred since then.
“It’s not like the thirties, but it’s the worst its been since the 30s,” Foxman said.
Explaining his alarming analysis, Foxman noted the growing numbers of deadly attacks against Jews, particularly in Europe, which – combined with other violent attacks – represents a wave of Jew-hatred unprecedented since the end of the Second World War.
“We’re living in an era where again anti-Semitism presents a clear and present danger to Jews in various communities.
“It’sglobal in its nature, and it’s endangering the lives of Jews -not just where they live or theirlivelihoods – andit has a dimension of terrorism,jihadism.”
Foxman, a veteran campaigner who has been part of the struggle against anti-Semitism since the 1960s, said contemporary anti-Semitism is a combination of “both the old and the new,” pointing to the confluence of the far-right, the far-left and political Islam.
That alliance is also greatly helped by the internet, he added, which enables anti-Semites to spread their message and reach previously unreachable audiences anonymously and with frighteningeffectiveness.
The subject of online anti-Semitism has figured prominently at the Forum this year, which is co-sponsored by the foreign ministry and ministry for diaspora affairs.
“Anti-Semitism has reached a critical mass. It’snot a drip-drip anymore,” Foxman warned.
European Anti-Semitism ‘Has Reached Critical Mass …
lmost 800 people will be participating in the Global Forum on anti-Semitism which opens this evening in Jerusalem. Sponsored by the Prime Ministers Office, this is by far the largest such gathering which has taken place in recent years. There is almost no Jewish community or institution which will not have a representative at the event. The government, along with some private Jewish sponsors has poured substantial resources into making the conference happen as the concern with growing anti-Semitism around the world has been pushed to the top of the global Jewish agenda.
Todays anti-Semitism is more complex than that of 30 years ago. In the past it was fairly easy to identify most of the worlds anti-Semitic groups as right-wing, racist organizations with quasi-fascist and anti-immigrant beliefs. Anti-Semitism was characterized by racial slurs, attacks on Jews making their way to and from synagogue and the desecration of graveyards. But in the decades immediately following the Holocaust, the protection afforded to Jewish communities by Western governments and police forces on the one hand, and on the other the escape hatch to Israel for those who desired to leave behind any form of discrimination, caused the problem to diminish significantly.
It never went away altogether, but there was an obvious global guilt at what had been perpetrated upon the Jews during World War II, coupled with a greater international awareness of human rights and the dignity of the individual, regardless of his or her ethnic or religious affiliations.
The past two decades have seen a growth of renewed anti-Semitic activity among groups which previously had not, at least openly, been involved in anti-Jewish polemic. This includes two contrasting groups parts of the intellectual Left who often fail to differentiate between criticism of Israel and criticism of Jews, and some Islamic groups, whose hatred and delegitimization of Israel has directly resulted in attacks on Jewish organizations, synagogues and students on university campuses.
But this does not mean that all criticism of Israel can be immediately understood as raw anti-Semitism in its broadest sense. There is no doubt that the borders between criticism of Israel and criticism of Jews have become harder to delineate, as the two merge into each other. Many groups critical of Israel have, by not enabling a proper debate to take place about Israels policies, opened the back door for the worlds anti-Semites to walk in, despite their arguments to the contrary that they themselves are not anti-Semitic and that they stand up for the rights of all minorities. They only have themselves to blame if they have not done enough to ensure a balanced debate about Israel and its automatic association with Jews everywhere.
THERE IS nothing like the cry of anti-Semitism to bring so many community machers together. For many, It has always been easier to identify with each other through the lowest common denominator, namely threat and persecution, than it has been to bring such a diverse and large group of Jews together around positive values of culture and education.
The last time there was such a collective Jewish effort focused on a single cause was the struggle for Soviet Jewry during the 1970s and 1980s. This was a cause ostensibly led by the Diaspora communities, especially in Europe, although Israel and the Jewish Agency were very active behind the scenes. But they did not want the struggle to be seen as an Israeli campaign, as that would be (and in some cases was) interpreted by the Soviets as being akin to espionage on the part of the refuseniks, enabling the authorities to take even stronger measures than they already were.
The struggle on behalf of Soviet Jewry became a global Jewish industry, much in the same way that the contemporary fight against anti-Semitism has become a must for anyone, especially community leaders, who desires to prove their worth and loyalty. But the Soviet Jewry campaign was not manipulated in the same way that the present anti-Semitism campaign is used, on some occasions, to blur the lines between legitimate criticism of Israel by many groups who do not see themselves as being anti-Jewish, and outright anti-Semitism. The use of the anti-Semitism argument has become a sort of knee-jerk reaction whenever any criticism of Israel is heard and can be self-defeating when it then totally alienates those groups with whom it is possible to engage and dialogue.
This weeks impressive conference has defined the enemy in advance. There will not be any serious internal debate about the fine line to be drawn between crude anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel. Statistics which document the worrying rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents throughout the world, especially in Western Europe and North America, will be presented, groups critical of Israel (including left-wing groups who will be labeled as self hating Jews in an effort to delegitimize and exclude them from the debate altogether) will be castigated, BDS and boycott activities will be defined as anti-Semitic, and no doubt here will be calls from some high-level Israeli participants who have little or no understanding of the Diaspora for Jews everywhere to immediately get up and leave their homes and come to the only safe haven for the Jewish people the State of Israel before the onset of the next Holocaust.
Fundraising to combat anti-Semitic activities will be made a priority and there will be the opportunity to create new organizations and networks of Jewish leaders, supported by the Jewish Agency and partly funded by the Israeli government, to undertake a combination of security and hasbarah, or public diplomacy, activities.
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An alternative perspective on global anti-Semitism …
anti-Semitism,hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious or racial group.
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anti – Semitism | Encyclopedia Britannica
also antisemitism, 1881, from German Antisemitismus, first used by Wilhelm Marr (1819-1904) German radical, nationalist and race-agitator, who founded the Antisemiten-Liga in 1879; see anti- + Semite. Not etymologically restricted to anti-Jewish theories, actions, or policies, but almost always used in this sense.
Anti-semitism | Define Anti-semitism at Dictionary.com
Horrific outbursts against the Jews are on the rise all over Europe exclamations like “gas the Jews” and “Jews burn best” are being heard at soccer games and similar social gatherings. While there is nothing to excuse or justify such hateful speech, some effort still needs to be made to understand why this is taking place now, and to such a degree that has not been seen for decades. That means coming to grips with the ways in which Israeli leaders have directly, and Jews in general inadvertently, contributed to this alarming development
Anti-semitism and Israel’s Moral Imperative …
Full Definition of ANTI-SEMITISM : hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group antiSemitic -s-mi-tik …
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Anti-Semitism | Definition of anti-Semitism by Merriam-Webster