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September 17, 2019 12:56 pm

Association of British Scrabble Players Updates Definition of ‘Jew’ as ‘Offensive’

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

A screenshot of the Association of British Scrabble Players’ online dictionary, before the recent update, that shows the listed definition of ‘Jews.’ Photo: Twitter / Dave Rich.

The Association of British Scrabble Players updated its guide to label the listed definitions of “jew” and “jews” as “offensive” after receiving complaints from British Jews.

Dave Rich, head of policy at the Jewish organization Community Security Trust, tweeted a screenshot of the association’s online dictionary, which defines “jews” as “to swindle” and “jew” as “to haggle, get the better of.”

Chairman of the ABSP, Mike Whiteoak, told The Jewish Chronicle that the association did not publish its own dictionary, but rather published “online lists of words on our website under different categories.” He added, “The words and the definitions are taken from the actual dictionary, which is published by HarperCollins — and we’re not responsible for how they define them.”

Whiteoak, who is Jewish, said the ABSP had decided “to take the time to go through the list and add ‘offensive’ to words that obviously were so,” including the word “jew.”

HarperCollins, however, said in a statement, “It cannot be the case that this definition has been taken from our content as the phrase ‘to jew’ has been listed as ‘obsolete’ and ‘offensive’ in our data and our products for over a decade.”

Rich said of the ABSP’s decision, “It is progress of sorts that the ABSP has finally labelled their definition as offensive, but this still does not address the fact that they are helping to perpetuate, and implicitly legitimize, antisemitic usages of the word ‘Jew.’ This is different from including swear words or other racist insults, because ‘Jew’ is a normal word that antisemites have given an alternative meaning as a way of slandering all Jewish people.”

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