Israel raps reported planned switch in White House antisemitism strategy

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Emmanuel Nahshon outside the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on January 28, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Emmanuel Nahshon outside the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on January 28, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A senior Foreign Ministry official has retweeted a post by World Jewish Congress president Ron Lauder in which he came out against a reported plan by US President Joe Biden’s administration to recognize a definition for antisemitism backed by progressives — in addition to the primary International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition — as part of the White House strategy, slated to be released this week.

“The international Jewish community would be gravely disappointed if the IHRA definition were not exclusively included in any action plan and would see it as not representative of their experiences and the true manifestations of modern antisemitism,” Lauder writes in the post, retweeted by Foreign Ministry deputy director for public diplomacy Emmanuel Nahshon.

The IHRA definition of antisemitism is the definition preferred by mainstream Jewish groups as well as the Israeli government. But US progressives argue that Israel has used the definition’s accompanying examples to brand large amounts of legitimate criticism of the Jewish state as antisemitic.

Last Friday, Jewish Insider reported that the latest draft of the White House antisemitism strategy highlights the IHRA definition while also referencing the alternative Nexus definition.

The Nexus definition was crafted by academic scholars in response to the IHRA definition, pushing back on the latter’s assertion that it is inherently antisemitic to apply double standards to Israel.

“Paying disproportionate attention to Israel and treating Israel differently than other countries is not prima facie proof of antisemitism,” the Nexus definition states, adding that “there are numerous reasons for devoting special attention to Israel and treating Israel differently.”

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