Wednesday, December 18, 2019

  • Wednesday, December 18, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon
There's another, unspoken issue that is implied by the critics of the Trump executive order on combating antisemitism.

Even if the order violated the First Amendment and forced universities to act against anti-Israel speech defined under the IHRA - which it manifestly doesn't - the critics are implying that it is impossible to advocate for Palestinian rights without falling foul of the IHRA definition.

Is it?

It is not antisemitic, under IHRA or any other definition, to say Palestinians deserve a state. Or that Israel doesn't treat them fairly. Or that they are oppressed. Or that the Nakba was terrible. Or that they aren't treated equally as Israeli citizens. Or that settlements are an obstacle to peace. Or that Israel kills civilians unfairly. Or that the separation barrier hurts Palestinians. Or that Israel uproots olive trees. Or that settlers treat Palestinians badly. Or that Israeli soldiers don't respect Palestinian human rights.

Zionists might not agree with statements like that, and many of them are flat-out false, but they aren't antisemitic.

But critics of the IHRA definition are saying that Palestinians must be allowed to say that Israel is a Nazi state, or that Israel is an apartheid state (which they would never say about Lebanon even though they treat Palestinians worse than Israel does) or that Israel is a racist endeavor from the start, or that the Nakba is worse than the Holocaust.  These statements are not only false but they cross the line into antisemitism because they treat Israel to a standard that no other nation is held to, and in the case of a Nazi analogies, they are meant directly to attack and hurt Jews by saying they are as bad or worse than those who killed 6 million of them.

Is it really so hard to advocate for Palestinian rights without descending into antisemitism? Those who have written against the EO apparently believe that - so instead of defending Jews from antisemitism, they are defending the right of anti-Zionists to be antisemitic.

Again, the EO does no such thing. People can spout on campus that Israelis are Nazis because that is free speech; they cannot harass Jews on campus and block them from joining organizations based on their supporting Israel.

But isn't it strange that the critics of the EO, all of whom profess to be against antisemitism, are arguing for the right of anti-Zionists to be antisemitic?

Few of them would make a similar argument that the existing Title Vi has a "chilling effect"  for white supremacists on campus to say racist speech on free speech grounds. But it is exactly the same.

The critics are defending antisemitic speech in ways that they would never dream to defend racist or sexist speech. If there is a moral or legal difference between antisemitic speech and racist speech, let them explain exactly why.








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