Defining Antisemitism

National Jewish Advocacy Center - Mark Goldfeder

Antisemitic harassment is illegal, but without a standard definition of what ‘antisemitism’ includes, that idea is almost meaningless. That is why state legislatures and university administrators across the country are debating enacting policies that adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. This Article will illustrate precisely how a state bill or a university policy utilizing the IHRA definition for assessing motivation when analyzing discriminatory conduct claims would actually function, so that critics can no longer vaguely claim that such policies would somehow offend the First Amendment. It will also explain the difference between protected political speech and thinly-veiled antisemitism, and provide a case study to illustrate the very real danger of what can happen when perpetrators are allowed to confuse speech with acts and conflate politics with demonizing and discriminatory hatred.