Secretary of State Blinken “Enthusiastically Embraces” IHRA

Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote in a February 23 letter to American Zionist Movement President Richard D. Heideman that the Biden administration “enthusiastically embraces” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

The letter, which was obtained by Jewish Insider, stated that the administration will counter “efforts to delegitimize Israel” as well as efforts to “isolate” Israel as the United States and Israel work toward a two-state solution.

“As the stepson of a Holocaust survivor, I wholeheartedly believe that we must remain vigilant in speaking out against bigotry, intolerance, and those who seek to undermine democracy,” Blinken wrote. “The Biden Administration enthusiastically embraces the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s Working Definition of Anti-Semitism, including its examples. We are eager to work with allies and partners to counter Holocaust distortion and combat anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance abroad while we strengthen our efforts at home, including redoubling our efforts to counter violent extremism.”

The American Jewish Committee praised Blinken in a tweet. “We welcome the Biden administration’s ‘enthusiastic’ support for @TheIHRA definition of antisemitism,” they wrote. “Utilizing the definition is a critical step in combating this age-old hatred in America and around the world.”

Conference of Presidents CEO William Daroff told Jewish Insider that Blinken’s letter shows how the IHRA definition has become the “gold standard” definition of anti-Semitism. “It’s more acceptable, unfortunately, to call someone a ‘dirty Israeli’ than it is to call them a ‘dirty Jew,’” Daroff said. “And we see this brand of antisemitism all over the world. It doesn’t mean it’s the only manifestation of antisemitism, it doesn’t mean that all criticism of Israel is antisemitic, but it reflects the reality of this growing plague.”

The progressive group IfNotNow, on the other hand, criticized Blinken’s support for IHRA. “We know this won’t keep us safe,” they tweeted. “We’ve seen how it’s only been used by the right to curb the free speech of Palestinians and their allies.”

The Biden administration had previously announced in February that they were going to champion the IHRA definition. The definition states that the demonization and delegitimization of Israel as well as subjecting it to double standards amounts to anti-Semitism.

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