Opinions & Commentary

State Dept. definition of anti-Semitism helpful

The Jewish Advocate does an excellent job of highlighting the growing anti-Semitism in the Boston area, the rest of America and around the world. This most ancient of hatreds should be of great concern to us all. This includes anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Israel activity. Here is one useful way to think about this issue.

When Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, the U.S. State Department issued a definition of anti-Semitism including references to Israel. The definition is still posted on the State Department’s website. Such a definition would be helpful to use in many different situations including determining if colleges and public schools have been insensitive to the Jewish community and unfair to the State of Israel. This definition lists contemporary examples of anti-Semitism such as calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews as well as making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews. In terms of Israel, this definition also provides other examples of anti-Semitism such as applying a double standard by requiring of Israel a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation and drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis. Furthermore, the definition says that anti- Semitism can be described as denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist. Such information must be used with care and context is also important. Nonetheless, this definition could be very useful in helping to identify such expressions of this most ancient of hatreds.

ROBERT M. SOFFER
Sharon



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