Progressive activists are demanding that the American Bar Association (ABA) halt a new resolution condemning antisemitism due to the employed definition of the word, the Washington Examiner reported.
The activists claim the term creates a “chilling” effect on free speech and is anti-Palestinian, the Examiner said.
ABA Resolution 514 “urges federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal governments in the United States to condemn antisemitism, as referred to in The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.”
The IHRA definition states: “Antisemitism 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.”
The ABA’s House of Delegates is scheduled to vote on the resolution when it convenes Feb. 6.
The American Civil Liberties Union, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the Council on American Islamic Relations issued a statement on Jan. 18 that condemned antisemitism but argued that the IHRA definition is too extreme.
“The clear objective behind the promotion of the IHRA definition is the suppression of non-violent protest, activism, and criticism of Israel and/or Zionism — a fact that is so well-documented as to be beyond reasonable dispute,” the statement said.
“Regardless of the original intent of its drafters, in practice the IHRA definition has been used consistently (and nearly exclusively) not to fight antisemitism, but rather to defend Israel and harm Palestinians — at the cost of undermining and dangerously chilling fundamental rights of free speech, freedom of assembly and protest, and academic freedom.”
Other organizations, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), also say the ABA’s proposal is a form of suppressing speech that aims to defend Palestinian people.
“The wording of the first example on ‘racist endeavor’ opens the door to labeling as antisemitic claims that Israeli government policies and practices violate the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the findings of major Israeli, Palestinian, and global human rights organizations that Israeli authorities are committing the crime against humanity of apartheid against Palestinians,” HRW wrote.
The Examiner reported that resolution was proposed by the ABA’s Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice, as well as its Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice, its Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, its International Law Section, its Senior Lawyers Division, and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.
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