NGOs Call On Facebook to Adopt the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism

A coalition of more than 125 NGOs from around the world is urging Facebook to put words into action and fully adopt the IHRA working definition of antisemitism.

Open Letter to Facebook: Adopt the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism

Dear Facebook Board of Directors,

We applaud your recent announcement regarding the revision of Facebook policy standards on hate speech, misinformation, and disinformation. We are confident that Facebook can successfully protect and support users, meet corporate social responsibility concerns of stakeholders, and continue to lead the social media industry.

As part of your efforts, we call on you to fully adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism as the cornerstone of Facebook’s hate speech policy regarding antisemitism.

Facebook’s Director of Content Policy Stakeholder Engagement, Peter Stern, recently attested to the usefulness of the IHRA working definition when Facebook first developed its hate speech policy. However, Mr. Stern admitted that Facebook does not have a policy aimed at combatting online antisemitism. He further admitted that Facebook does not embrace the full adoption of the IHRA working definition because the definition recognizes that modern manifestations of antisemitism relate to Israel.

In accordance with the recommendations outlined in the “The New Antisemites” report, which call on social media platforms to eliminate antisemitic content by adopting the IHRA working definition as the basis for content removal policies, we the undersigned coalition of 124 organizations, urge Facebook to implement a hate speech policy on antisemitism that includes the full IHRA working definition at its core.

Nearly 40 countries have already endorsed or adopted the IHRA working definition in some official capacity, either through their membership in the IHRA or independently. In the United States, in addition to the adoption by the State Department, the recent Executive Order on Combatting Anti-Semitism instructs the Department of Education to consider the IHRA definition when evaluating Title VI Civil Rights Act complaints of discrimination.

The overwhelming majority of civil society organizations at the forefront of efforts to combat antisemitism endorse and encourage the use and adoption of the IHRA working definition. Today’s antisemitism undoubtedly includes the delegitimization of Israel’s right to exist. This bigotry is expressed in various ways, such as the rejection of Jewish self-determination, Holocaust revisionism and denial, and the application of double standards toward the Jewish state and people.

Will Facebook join the ranks of the historians, advocates, activists, lawmakers, and leaders who compiled the IHRA working definition? Will Facebook take responsibility and move toward removing the scourge of antisemitism from today’s most important online public square?

Jews today, like many other minority communities, are being targeted and attacked in record numbers. They experience physical violence, harassment, and discrimination offline and online.

Jews overwhelmingly report that online antisemitism is the most acute form of Jew-hatred they experience.

The full IHRA working definition of antisemitism provides Facebook an effective, neutral, and nuanced tool to protect Jewish users from hate speech and imagery that incites hate and oftentimes leads to violence. While the impact of online hate speech, misinformation, and disinformation on our society continues to be researched and explored, we cannot afford to lose any more time in fighting this bigotry and preventing violence.

We urge Facebook to put words into action and power behind commitment — and fully adopt the IHRA working definition of antisemitism.

The Israel and Jew-haters argue that this will silence valid criticism of Israel.

https://twitter.com/DrHananAshrawi/status/1293079517460922369

Do not be fooled – this is a disingenuous argument. The IHRA working definition of antisemitism does not preclude such criticism at all.

Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.

What it does include as examples of antisemitism are things we see in my anti-Zionist-not-antisemite series, with the word “Jews” so often replaced with the word “Zionists.”

Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

– Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.

– Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.

– Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.

– Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).

– Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.

– Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

– Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

– Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

– Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.

– Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

– Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

Needless to say, Israellycool Israel Advocacy is fully behind this call.

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David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media

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