Israel lobby uses discredited anti-Semitism definition to muzzle debate

Ben White writes: Top administrators at the University of California are considering what action to take against speech and activities alleged to be anti-Semitic. As part of their discussions, the university may endorse a seven-year-old document, which — despite not having an official status — is often called the European Union’s “working definition” of anti-Semitism.

Although the administrators have indicated that their motive is to protect Jewish students, a careful examination of the definition indicates that the real agenda may be to stifle Palestine solidarity activism and criticism of Israel in the classroom.

In early July, a report commissioned by the University of California’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion was published (“U. of Calif. Weighs Banning ‘Hate’ Speech,” Forward, 2 August 2012).

The council has been co-directed by Richard Barton, national education chairman of the Anti-Defamation League — one of the most powerful groups in America’s pro-Israel lobby. Its report claims that Palestine solidarity activities were “undermining Jewish students’ sense of belonging” and creating a hostile environment.

The report’s recommendations include the adoption by the administration of a definition of anti-Semitism that could be used to “identify contemporary incidents” which would then “be sanctioned by University non-discrimination or anti-harassment policies.” [Continue reading…]

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