More significantly, the administration made no commitment of money to this new strategy.
(May 31, 2023 / JNS)
Ultimately, the president caved into the far left and announced a strategy to fight antisemitism that gives antisemites cover. Establishment Jewish organizations rushed to praise the administration without apparently reading “The U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism” or considering its implications.
As I warned in my previous column, the strategy failed at the most fundamental level by refusing to define antisemitism unequivocally. Trying to have it both ways, the document says: “There are several definitions of antisemitism, which serve as valuable tools to raise awareness and increase understanding of antisemitism. The most prominent is the non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism adopted in 2016 by the 31-member states of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which the United States has embraced. In addition, the administration welcomes and appreciates the Nexus Document and notes other such efforts.”
This is doublespeak. It does not say that the IHRA is the definition it will use in pursuing its strategy. Worse, as many of us feared, it gives credence to the Nexus Document, which, unlike the IHRA, does not have the support of the international community. It was drafted by a handful of left-wing professors who defend anti-Zionism and double standards applied to Israel.
Since both supporters and critics of the IHRA claimed victory, the administration probably views its formulation as a successful compromise. If opponents of the internationally recognized definition believe they won, however, we have all lost.
Evidence that the administration has no intention of using the IHRA is that it is not mentioned in the White House’s fact sheet accompanying its strategy paper. It is also absent from the U.S. Department of Education antisemitism awareness campaign that was announced simultaneously.
You can’t fight antisemitism if you don’t know what it is.
By refusing to define antisemitism and trying to mollify “progressive” Democrats, the administration created serious doubts as to what it will be fighting against. Most notably, the strategy does not mention the antisemitic BDS campaign. This was undoubtedly to appease the far-left authors of the “alternative” definitions of antisemitism. The effect is to allow boycotts to proliferate and ignore one of the most significant sources of antisemitism on college campuses.
Antisemites must also be thrilled that the word “Zionism” does not appear in the strategy as they do not want the administration to acknowledge that anti-Zionism is antisemitic.
The lack of a definition is the most fundamental flaw of the strategy but not the only one.
The strategy diminishes the problem of antisemitism by equating it with other forms of bigotry. This is not a surprise given that last December, Biden established the Interagency Policy Committee on Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and Related Forms of Bias and Discrimination. The document repeatedly refers to antisemitism in the context of general bigotry and bias, even though it acknowledges that FBI data indicate 63% of religiously reported hate crimes are directed towards Jews.