Denouncing ‘Racist Israel and Its Lobbies,’ PLO Rejects Internationally-Accepted Definition of Antisemitism
The PLO’s Ambassador to Senegal has published what he called the “position of the State of Palestine on this debate around antisemitism” — a furious objection to the definition of antisemitism drawn up by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), so far adopted by 31 countries and endorsed by the European Parliament.
In a communiqué carried by the Senegalese news outlet Dakar Actu earlier this week, Safwat Ibraghith — the PLO’s diplomatic representative to the West African nation — stated that because his organization rejected all forms of racism, “including antisemitism, Islamophobia, homophobia…Palestine condemns, a priori, the State of Israel through its racist and discriminatory laws and policies: starting with the Law of Return, and the law relating to the property of the absentees in 1950, up to to the last law on the ‘nation-state of the Jewish people,’ dated July 19, 2018.”
The immediate source of the PLO’s ire with the IHRA definition is its inclusion of examples of anti-Zionist rhetoric — comparisons of Israel with Nazi Germany, the denunciation of Zionism as racism — that are antisemitic in nature. According to Ibraghith, “Palestine refuses any amalgamation between antisemitism and anti-Zionism.”
“While the first is racially racist,” he said, “the second is inscribed only in anti-colonial logic, namely that Zionism is a colonialist and racist ideology in nature.”
Accordingly, Ibraghith denied that the Jews could legitimately constitute a nation, reducing them to the status of a tolerated religious minority.
“Palestine categorically refuses any amalgam between Jew and Israeli, because the first belongs to a religious denomination entirely recognized by the Palestinians, while the other belongs to a political system,” he wrote.
Angrily rejecting the claim that comparing Israel to the former apartheid regime in South Africa can be antisemitic, Ibraghith then invoked the shadow of powerful Jewish lobbies around the world actively engaged in censorship of the Palestinian cause.
Accusing “Israel and its lobbies” of “intimidation” and “blackmail,” the PLO diplomat said that the Palestinians saw an “immediate danger…to confiscate freedom of expression, particularly among anti-colonial activists in the international solidarity movement for justice, freedom and equality in historic Palestine.”
Beyond the question of Israel, Ibraghith was also scornful of the IHRA definition. “It is a definition without much legal value,” he wrote, before quoting its opening lines that antisemitism “is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
This formulation, Ibraghith opined, was “very banal and fuzzy.”