ZOA Criticizes Biden Antisemitism Strategy’s Embrace of Dangerous “Nexus” Antisemitism Definition & Not Calling Out Islamists & Other Antisemites
News Press Release
May 25, 2023

ZOA Criticizes Conference of Presidents, American Jewish Committee, ADL, Orthodox Union, Envoy Deborah Lipstadt for Praising Biden Strategy While Ignoring Its Serious Flaws

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) National President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:

ZOA criticizes several alarming, harmful aspects of the Biden administration’s just-released “National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism”:

First, the Biden Strategy uses the soft phrase U.S. “has embraced” [past tense] the positive consensus IHRA definition of antisemitism – while much more strongly states Biden “welcomes and appreciates” the dangerous “Nexus” definition of antisemitism. The Biden Strategy then also “notes” other definitions, which can mean even more harmful definitions such as the JDA definition.  

In ZOA’s letter to President Biden urging him to solely adopt the helpful IHRA definition, ZOA explained that the NEXUS and JDA definitions shield and permit antisemitism that is masked as hatred for the Jewish state and Zionism. ZOA wrote that:

The JDA and the Nexus Document are [] dangerous, wrongly shielding antisemites who try to mask their hatred of Jews by expressing it as hatred for the Jewish state. For example, the Nexus Document states that opposition to Zionism – i.e., the right of the Jewish people to self-determination and to live as a nation-state in their religious and ancestral homeland – is not necessarily antisemitic. The Nexus Document fails to appreciate that for many if not most Jews, their connection to their religious and ancestral homeland is an essential part of their Jewish identity.

The Nexus Document also states that “disproportionate focus on Israel and treating Israel differently than other countries cannot necessarily be considered antisemitic.” But if Israel – the one and only Jewish state in the world – is singled out for criticism and punishment, then there can be no doubt that antisemitism is at play.

The JDA is even more problematic. It does not even recognize that anti-Zionism, i.e., denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, is antisemitism.” (See ZOA to President Biden: To Help Protect the Safety of the Jewish People, Recognize the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism,” May 23, 2023.)

It is thus deeply troubling that the Conference of Presidents, AJC, ADL, OU and other groups praised President Biden for supposedly adopting the IHRA definition in the Strategy (when the strategy only noted that the U.S. has embraced this definition); and failed to mention that the Biden Strategy “welcomed and appreciated” the harmful definitions that allow antisemitism masked as hatred of Israel and Zionist to continue, unabated. Biden accepting both a strong definition and a dangerous outrageous definition weakens and undermines the stronger accurate definition, and strengthens and gives credence to the appalling and dangerous Nexus and JDA definitions, which allow antisemitic actions to be accepted as legitimate and non-threatening to the Jewish people.

Second, the Biden Strategy failed to mention the IHRA examples of antisemitism. Those examples make it clear that antisemitism can be masked as singling out Israel for attacks. Note, that by contrast, President Trump’s Executive Order on Combating Antisemitism required those enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to consider the IHRA definition and the IHRA “Contemporary Examples of Anti-Semitism.”

Third, the Biden Strategy fails to explicitly identify or deal with any source of antisemitism by name other than white supremacy. The Biden Strategy never identifies Black supremacist antisemitism such as that of Louis Farrakhan; BlackLivesMatter (BLM) antisemitism and anti-Jewish pogroms; radical Islamist antisemitism; or the hatred of Jews and the sole Jewish state promoted in Congress by Squad members such as Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Betty McCollum, Cori Bush, Bernie Sanders and Jamaal Bowman.

Fourth, the Biden Strategy diminishes and dilutes the unique hatred of antisemitism and its frightening preponderance among hateful actions (63% of all hate crimes are committed against Jews while Jews are only 2% of the population) by lumping antisemitism together with “Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny.” Similarly, the Biden Strategy seeks to universalize and dilute Holocaust education by incorporating other forms of hatred.

In sum, the Biden “National Strategy to Combat Antisemitism” is a lopsided document that can undermine efforts to combat most sources of antisemitism in the United States and throughout the world. We urge that the Biden Administration, envoy Deborah Lipstadt and Jewish groups rethink this very flawed strategy paper.

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