In what must be an alarming surge of antisemitism, the council of Montgomery County, Maryland, is planning a vote to adopt a new definition of antisemitism. But why is there a need for a new definition? Antisemitism is racism directed against Jews, pure and simple. So what is so wrong with this definition that Montgomery County feels the need to have a vote to adopt a new one? What is wrong in this county that requires this vote?
The council issued a statement in July announcing that,
The resolution, introduced by the Council and led by Councilmember Friedson, comes in response to the disturbing rise of antisemitism and acts of assault, vandalism and harassment against Jewish community members and Jewish organizations across the County and nation.”
Even if it is true that there is a rise in antisemitism, a new definition will not help. Racism does not need to be redefined in order to be eliminated. What is needed in order to eradicate racism is a commitment to fight it. What is called for is a commitment to anti-racism, and anti-Zionism is anti-racism. The purpose of the Zionist campaign to have the IHRA definition adopted by governmental and non-governmental organizations around the world is that they recognize that there is a growing understanding that the fight against racism must include a fight against Zionism.
The resolution itself states that its purpose is “to Define and Address Antisemitism.” They would do well to be reminded that antisemitism is well-defined already as racism directed towards Jewish people. As for addressing antisemitism, the IHRA definition is merely a Zionist attempt to silence those who are seriously critical of Israel and of Zionism. It was neither intended nor is capable of addressing racism in any form, let alone fight antisemitism.
Zionism is a racist ideology that has produced an apartheid regime. Zionist groups, mostly non-governmental not-for-profit organizations with a tax exemption are dedicated to passing pro-Israel, Pro-Zionist resolutions throughout the country, and adopting the IHRA definition is one of them.
Apparently, the public was not notified about the plan for the council to vote on the IHRA definition. It was discovered by accident, and very soon afterward, Montgomery Council received hundreds of emails demanding they refrain from voting to adopt it. Public pressure eventually brought about a postponement of the vote. Now it still is not clear when the vote will take place, but there are concerns that it will be coming up soon, once again, unannounced.
If antisemitism is really such a serious problem in Montgomery County, then why is this not brought up to public discussion? If the members of the council are so concerned, why do they not invite experts to speak about the pros and cons of redefining antisemitism and what might be the best ways to fight racism? If indeed there is a rise in racist incidents in Montgomery County, it is highly unlikely that only Jewish people are being targeted. One may expect that Black residents and other minorities are targeted as well. In which case there needs to be real action taking place: education, human resources, and law enforcement should all be part of this effort to curb the rise of racism in the area.
However, none of that is taking place. Only a secret vote to satisfy a small group of people, who may or may not be Jewish and who identify with a racist ideology called Zionism.
Who is behind this effort?
It comes as no surprise to see that one of the organizations behind this push is the infamous, racist pro-Israel group, the Anti-Defamation League, or ADL, a group that poses as a civil rights organization. In late 2020, I wrote here about an important initiative calling to end all collaboration with the Anti-Defamation League. The Drop the ADL initiative, which included two hundred or so organizations, including faith groups and civil rights organizations, stated that “The Anti-Defamation League has branded itself as a civil rights organization in ways that conceal and legitimize its right-wing activities.”
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, DC, or JCRC, is another Zionist organization pushing Montgomery County Council to pass this resolution. On its website, the group rallies the troops by calling, “we must overwhelmingly pass this resolution to address the alarming rise of antisemitic incidents in Montgomery County. IT IS CRITICAL THAT COUNCILMEMBERS HEAR FROM JEWISH MOCO RESIDENTS AND THEIR ALLIES WHO SUPPORT THIS RESOLUTION.”
The caps and bold are in the original text. The fear that the legitimacy of Zionism eroding is so great that they pull all the stops and frighten the life out of every Jewish resident in the county so that they come out and demand a vote. Furthermore, they claim, “Increasingly in America, it can be dangerous to identify as Jewish.”
The JCRC website congratulates Councilmember Andrew Friedson, who, according to them, “has introduced a resolution to address this worsening crisis, which uses the gold standard definition of antisemitism.” As though to alleviate all fear that this is an attempt to silence criticism and delegitimization of Israel they claim, “Opponents of this resolution falsely claim that its passage would infringe upon free speech and prevent criticism of Israel. These concerns are unwarranted. By definition, a resolution is not legally binding.” So one has to wonder, what’s the point?
The point is to allow the county to wrongly accuse of antisemitism those who refuse to legitimize Israel’s actions. Furthermore, anyone who rightfully insists that Zionism is a racist ideology will also be the subject of that terrible accusation. One has to wonder if the council heard from Jewish people who are anti-Zionists.
This entire drama would be funny if it was not so dangerous. Israel is engaged in genocide and ethnic cleansing in Palestine. It has been accused of the crime of apartheid, and it is constantly attacking and threatening Syria while threatening wars with Iran and Lebanon. Still, here in the United States, the very country that bankrolls Israel, local councils are passing resolutions to stifle the debate about Israel.
Anyone interested to hear more about IHRA and antisemitism, in general, is welcome to listen to this interview with Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro.
Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News
Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”