Anti-Israelism and Anti-Semitism: the Invidious Conflation

Photo Source zeevveez | CC BY 2.0

I and others have warned that enactment of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act now before Congress would threaten free speech and free inquiry on America’s college campuses and beyond. As I’ve explained, this bill incorporates a conception — a “definition” plus potential examples — of anti-Semitism that conflates criticism of Israel’s founding and continuing abuse of the Palestinians with anti-Semitism for the purpose inoculating Israel from such criticism. Anti-Zionist Jews and others have objected to this conflation for over 70 years.

What makes us so confident in predicting a threat to free speech?

We are confident in part because Donald Trump’s assistant secretary of education for civil rights, who would enforce the legislation, is Kenneth L. Marcus, whose record makes him the poster boy for the invidious conflation.

Dima Khalidi, founder and director of Palestine Legal, writes in The Nation:

If this definition [of anti-Semitism] were adopted and implemented as Marcus would like, the DOE would be empowered to conclude that universities nurture hostile, anti-Semitic environments by allowing the screening of a documentary critical of Israel’s 50-year military occupation of Palestinian lands such as Occupation 101, a talk critical of Israeli policy by a Holocaust survivor, a mock checkpoint enacted by students to show their peers what Palestinian life under a military occupation is like, a talk on BDS…

Read more