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Pro-Israel groups call on Elon Musk to adopt controversial IHRA antisemitism definition

A group of 180 pro-Israel nonprofit and civil rights organizations has called on Elon Musk, new owner and Chief Executive Officer of Twitter, to adopt the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

In a joint letter sent on November 16 to Musk, the pro-Israel groups wrote, “The world needs an online platform where everyone can participate. Unfortunately, this is not the case, as Jewish users are subject to unrelenting harassment on Twitter.”

The signatories include groups from the UK, US, and France, among others.

“Twitter’s guidelines should afford protection to Jewish Twitter users from antisemitic content and harassment,” the groups said.

“In order to fight antisemitism properly, it must be defined. Therefore, we call on you to update Twitter’s anti-hate policies by adopting the globally recognized IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism as a guiding tool to stymie the spread of Jew hatred,” they claimed.

“Adopting the IHRA Working Definition would provide Twitter with an effective and neutral tool to protect Jewish users from antisemitic content along with the hate and violence it can inspire,” said the letter addressed to Twitter.

The groups presented Musk with a data sample of more than 1,000 tweets, claiming the tweets are “antisemitic” and “all satisfying the IHRA Working Definition.

Among the above-mentioned tweets is a tweet written in 2021 by Palestinian-American journalist Ali Abunimah who said, “Israeli enemy occupier prevents COVID vaccine from entering Gaza ghetto,” referring to Israeli government’s preventing COVID-19 vaccine from entering the besieged Gaza Strip.

 

The letter cites the Torah Jews, a Jewish organisation that promotes the idea that “Zionism is not Judaism”, as breaching the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

 

The letter also referenced many other activists and organizations that were critical of Israeli policies against Palestinians.

IHRA Definition of Antisemitism

The IHRA definition has been formally adopted or endorsed by the governments of the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Hungary, the United States, the European Parliament and more than 30 other countries.

However, the IHRA definition includes problematic examples of antisemitism that have been criticised by human rights groups as well as some liberal Zionist organisations.

The 572-word IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism reads: “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.”

Some of the most controversial examples of antisemitism provided by the IHRA include banning anyone from “applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation”.

Another example presented in the IHRA definition: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg, by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

The definition is simply designed to silence criticism of ‘Israel’ and of Zionism by equating this criticism with antisemitism as 7 of the 11 examples make references to ‘Israel’.

The examples have also been used by ‘Israel’ lobby groups to disrupt the activities of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement around the world by claiming that a boycott of ‘Israel’ is anti-Semitic.

Earlier this month, some 128 scholars of Jewish history and Holocaust studies from around the world warned that ‘Israel’ is trying to gag its critics by formally labelling them as “antisemites” in the United Nations.

In a letter entitled: “Don’t trap the United Nations in a vague and weaponised definition of antisemitism,” the Jewish academics called the UN to not adopt the ‘weaponised’ IHRA definition of antisemitism.

The academics said the definition is notorious for being used in Israeli bashing of people who try to hold it to account on Palestine.

“Supporters of the #IHRA definition of antisemitism insist that it is not about silencing criticism of Israel. But in the Adopt IHRA Coalition’s list of 50 “examples” of “antisemitic tweets” that violate IHRA, a significant number of them are just… criticisms of Israel,” wrote Michael Bueckert of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East on Wednesday.

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