Israel advocates pass new definition of antisemitism at 15 more U.S. colleges

Israel advocates pass new definition of antisemitism at 15 more U.S. colleges

Now at least 30 American campuses have adopted a newly manufactured definition of antisemitism that focuses on Israel

By Alison Weir

In a triumph of Orwellian newspeak, over the past academic year Israel advocates at 15 American colleges succeeded in pushing through a newly created definition of ‘antisemitism’ that focuses on Israel. The formulation for the new definition – known as the IHRA definition – originated with an Israeli official in 2004 and has been promoted worldwide ever since.

As an Israel advocate writes, the IHRA definition is “the only definition which includes anti-Zionism within it.” Anti-Zionism is a highly diverse movement that supports Palestinian rights and opposes Israel’s ethno-religious discriminatory system, which is widely considered a form of apartheid.

The normal, traditional definition of antisemitism is simply “hostility to or prejudice against Jewish people.”

According to the American Jewish Committee,* the definition has now been endorsed by at least 30 American colleges and universities:

  1. Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ (September 2020)
  2. Brooklyn College, New York, NY (November 2020)
  3. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA (April 2021)
  4. California State University, Northridge (CSUN), Los Angeles, CA (December 2020)
  5. Chapman University, Orange, CA (May 2017)
  6. City College of New York, New York, NY (November 2020)
  7. East Carolina University, Greenville, NC (February 2017)
  8. Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL (July 2020)
  9. Foothill College, Los Altos Hills, CA (October 2020)
  10. Indiana University, Bloomington, IN (December 2018)
  11. Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA (March 2021)
  12. Northeastern University, Boston, MA (November 2020)
  13. Pace University, New York, NY (October 2020)
  14. Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA (April 2021)
  15. San Diego State University, San Diego, CA (April 2017)
  16. St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY (November 2020)
  17. Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA (February 2019)
  18. Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY (March 2021)
  19. Texas A & M University, College Station, TX (September 2020)
  20. University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA (March 2015)
  21. University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA (February 2021)
  22. University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA (February 2021)
  23. University of Georgia, Athens, GA (January 2021)
  24. University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA (May 2021)
  25. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN (March 2021)
  26. University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN (April 2021)
  27. University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX (March 2021)
  28. University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX (April 2021)
  29. University of Wisconsin, Madison, Madison, WI (September 2017)
  30. Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC (December 2018)

While adoption of the new definition for antisemitism may seem symbolic, pro-Israel groups have a reason for promoting it: under Trump’s 2018 executive order on antisemitism it can potentially be used to censor information about Israel-Palestine on the campuses.

*Although it is named “the American Jewish Committee,” the AJC is actually an international Israel advocacy organization with offices throughout the world.

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Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel.


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