“We, the undersigned Palestinian and Arab academics, journalists and intellectuals are hereby stating our views regarding the definition of anti-Semitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), and the way this definition has been applied, interpreted and deployed in several countries of Europe and North America,” begins a letter that was published in The Guardian on Sunday, signed by 122 distinguished Arabs, including, of course, Hanan Ashrawi, currently a senior member of the PLO, who used to be a Professor of Comparative Literature in Birzeit University.
The IHRA has declared a few years ago that as the only intergovernmental organization mandated to focus solely on Holocaust-related issues, and with evidence that the scourge of anti-Semitism is once again on the rise, its members resolved to develop a working definition of “the scourge” so that men and women of conscience in the civilized world learn to recognize it and combat it.
The Guardian 122 are unhappy with some of those definitions, essentially because they equate the pathological hatred of the Jewish State with the pathological hatred of Jewish groups and individuals everywhere.
The IHRA definitions include, “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.” Therefore, strictly speaking, every time an Arab or another Israel-hater compares the Jewish State to the South African apartheid regime, they express anti-Semitism.
“Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” is another apt definition the Arabs loath. Because then, each time they criticize the way Israel treats its Arabs, they must consider the myriad abhorrent ways the Arab countries incarcerate, torture, gas, and behead many thousands of their own citizens.
The Guardian 122 also hate the definition of anti-Semitism that says: “Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.” There go 90 percent of all the cartoons in the Arab media, which are repackaged version of Nazi and other anti-Semitic cartoons over centuries.
According to IHRA, “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” would also render the Guardian 122 anti-Semitic. Which would usher a wave of great silence into the mosques, universities, parliaments, television stations, and press rooms from Bangladesh to Morocco.
There’s more, but the above is enough to explain why these 122 intellectuals would like the new standards changed, and for the civilized world to revert to the November 10, 1975 United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379, which by a vote of 72 to 35 (with 32 abstentions), determined that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” Ah, those were the days, when every neo-Nazi (or actual Nazi for that matter) could claim that he’s not at all anti-Semitic, he’s just critical of the Zionist state.
I urge you to endeavor and read the entire letter (Palestinian rights and the IHRA definition of antisemitism), by all means, dive into the rabbit’s hole padded with more than 50 years of a concerted effort to misrepresent the facts about the State of Israel, before and after it liberated the territories which were occupied by the armies of Egypt and Jordan with no international recognition. My adult life has been spent between that 1975 resolution and today’s international recognition, especially on the part of many Arabs, that Israel, despite its shortcomings, is a shining beacon in an otherwise dark region. Even PLO and Hamas leaders recognize it, usually right after they sink into a coronavirus-induced coma and must receive treatment by the Jews, or by excellent Arab doctors who are happy to reach an equal status in their profession in a free society.
Hanan Ashrawi has earned her spot among the signatures in the Guardian 122 letter: she is as 1975 as they come. About which we can be comforted by the notion that she, like the rest of us, is biodegradable.