Antisemitism bill hearing reflects disagreement in Jewish community over dual loyalty

@ The Antisemitism Awareness Act

In lexicography, the practice of compiling dictionaries, there are two kinds of definitions: descriptive and prescriptive. Understanding this key difference in how definitions are categorized is indispensible to comprehending the battle(s) that rage over the meaning of the term “antisemitism”.

“Descriptive” definitions are just that: they describe how people actually use a word. For example:
misogyny |məˈsäjənē| noun
Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.

“Prescriptive” definitions are very specific and are often efforts to limit meaning. For example:
Red: a color at the end of the spectrum next to orange and opposite violet.

During the recent Congressional hearing on the Antisemitism Awareness Act Rabbi Andy Baker, the AJC’s director of International Jewish Affairs, said: “the definition of anti-Semitism changes “over time”

Rabbi Baker is giving voice to a core Zionist principle reflected in a quote from Herzl’s diary: “Above all I recognise the emptiness and futility of trying to ‘combat’ antisemitism.”

Herzl, and by extension, political Zionism embraced the belief that antisemitism was a universal and untreatable element of the human landscape which could appear anywhere in any guise.
Herzl believed some form of antisemitism would perpetually threaten Jewish people and therefore they were justified in demanding a Jewish homeland.

Any definition of antisemitism that is not elastic enough to uphold this foundational principle, by allowing it to “change over time”, puts the legitimacy of Israel in question.

The definition of antisemitism adopted by Congress, the U.S. State Department, the IHRA and the EMCR is designed to serve bureaucrats, politicians and partisans rather than ordinary people:
“Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” ¬– Working Definition of Anti-Semitism by the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EMCR)

Is this a definition that could be used effectively in any U.S. high school or university? Or anywhere outside the halls of special interests?

To that point lexicography addresses an issue called “lexicographic information cost” which includes comprehension costs, i.e., the efforts required by users to understand and interpret the data in dictionaries.

The U.S. State Department definition has an extremely high comprehension cost because it completely ignores the interests and needs of ordinary people to understand the meaning of the term “antisemitism”. Congress could address this by calling for a panel composed of secular American educators, lexicographers, historians and others to provide a descriptive counter-argument.

The U.S. State Department definition is artificially complex. We can do better. The definition listed above for “misogyny ” can serve as an excellent model:

antisemitism noun
Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against Jewish people.

127 posters on the subject of Antisemitism/Judaeophobia/Nazi Propaganda/Anti-Jewish Racism

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