FIFTEEN PROGRESSIVE JEWISH GROUPS from across the world have issued a statement urging a shift from discussing how antisemitism is defined, to a focus on how antisemitism can be dismantled, alongside all forms of racism and bigotry.
“We believe in a world where we are all safe and cherished – a world without racism, without antisemitism, and without Islamophobia”, the statement begins, before addressing the IHRA definition and the recently issued Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (JDA).
The statement denounces the current fractured discourse on antisemitism and offers a path to move beyond it. The groups condemn the Israeli government’s campaign to levy antisemitism accusations in order to evade accountability for its human rights abuses, including through the harmful and misleading International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism. In this context, the groups welcome the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (JDA) as a useful corrective to the IHRA definition, pointing out that the JDA is a “vastly improved replacement for the IHRA.”
The statement also, however, raises concern that the JDA places Israel-Palestine at the centre of a discussion of antisemitism, a “disproportionate focus that risks contributing to the intense policing of discourse on Israel-Palestine, and distracting from the real dangers we face as Jews today from white supremacists and the far-right.”
In the wake of multiple definitions of antisemitism, the statement argues that “we are acutely aware that defining antisemitism does not actually do the work of dismantling antisemitism”, calling for “progressives around the world to commit to dismantling it alongside all forms of oppression and bigotry” and offering principles and practical steps to do so.
Principles for Dismantling Antisemitism:
- Do not isolate antisemitism from other forms of oppression.
- Challenge political ideologies that foment racism, hate, and fear.
- Create environments that affirm and celebrate all expressions of cultural and religious life.
- Make undoing all forms of racism and bigotry both policy and daily practice.
- Practice safety through solidarity, not law enforcement.
Stefanie Fox, Executive Director, Jewish Voice for Peace: “Dismantling antisemitism is vital work in creating the world we all want – a future without oppression, bigotry and all forms of racism. For far too long, the discredited IHRA definition has been a tool to silence Palestinians and safeguard Israeli government impunity. This cynical manipulation of the real concern progressives have for Jewish safety cannot stand. While we welcome the JDA’s affirmation that fighting for Palestinian rights and freedom has nothing to do with antisemitism, we also understand that social justice movements need a practical, principled approach that goes beyond correcting the record. With these five Principles for Dismantling Antisemitism, we are urging a return to the real work at hand.“
Corey Balsam, National Coordinator of Independent Jewish Voices Canada, said: “The Jerusalem Declaration comes at a moment when Jewish communities around the world are increasingly divided on the controversial IHRA definition. We hope that the JDA will serve as a useful tool for governments and institutions who are serious about combating antisemitism, rather than simply scoring points with the Israeli government and pro-Israel lobby groups.”
* Read the full statement and list of signatory organisations here.
* Ekklesia supports this initiative.
* Source: Jewish Voice For Peace