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This guide supports the Hillel presentation (04/08/24) on Antisemitism.

The definition of antisemitism is a contested term.  In 2016 the US adopted the The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition as a non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism. To date (2024) the United Nations has not adopted this definition

A critique of the IHRA definition concerns clarity in distinguishing antisemitism from opposition to Israel's political/ideological policies (see New Antisemitism).  To some degree, alternatives to the IHRA definition attempt to address this critique.

Definitions of Antisemitism

IHRA Definition of Antisemitism

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.

Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism

Antisemitism is discrimination, prejudice, hostility or violence against Jews as Jews (or Jewish institutions as Jewish)

Nexus Project

Antisemitism consists of anti-Jewish beliefs, attitudes, actions or systemic conditions. It includes negative beliefs and feelings about Jews, hostile behavior directed against Jews (because they are Jews), and conditions that discriminate against Jews and significantly impede their ability to participate as equals in political, religious, cultural, economic, or social life.

3D Test of Anti-Semitism Demonization, Double Standards, Delegitimization

  • The first "D" is the test of demonization. When the Jewish state is being demonized; when Israel's actions are blown out of all sensible proportion; when comparisons are made between Israelis and Nazis and between Palestinian refugee camps and Auschwitz - this is anti- Semitism, not legitimate criticism of Israel.
  • The second "D" is the test of double standards. When criticism of Israel is applied selectively; when Israel is singled out by the United Nations for human rights abuses while the behavior of known and major abusers, such as China, Iran, Cuba, and Syria, is ignored; when Israel's Magen David Adom, alone among the world's ambulance services, is denied admission to the International Red Cross - this is anti-Semitism.
  • The third "D" is the test of delegitimization: when Israel's fundamental right to exist is denied - alone among all peoples in the world - this too is anti-Semitism.

Links to Resources on Definitions of Antisemitism

Resources for researching definitions of antisemitism

  • Books on definitions of antisemitism -- Link
  • Viewpoints and news on definitions of antisemitism -- Link
  • Journal articles on definitions of antisemitism (focused) -- Link
  • Journal articles on definitions of antisemitism (broad) -- Link

AI (Gemini) Response to the Prompt, "What is the controversy surrounding the definition of antisemitism?"

The controversy around antisemitism boils down to how we define it, particularly in relation to criticism of Israel. Here's a breakdown of the main points:

  • The IHRA Definition: The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) offers a widely used definition that includes examples. These examples are where the debate gets heated.
  • Blurring the Lines? Critics argue some examples conflate legitimate criticism of Israel's policies with antisemitism. They say it stifles free speech, especially for Palestinians discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Defending Israel vs. Shielding Hate: Supporters say the definition is crucial for identifying antisemitism. They argue distinguishing criticism from hatred protects Jews from prejudice disguised as political critique.


*** This response does not reflect the opinion of the Cowles Library or Drake University ***