There is a long-standing tradition in Israel and in many pro-Israel circles around the world to identify critics of Israel as anti-Semitic or, at the very least, irretrievably biased against Israel.
This rhetorical device has become increasingly weaponized, in and outside of Israel. Human Rights Watch’s Israel-Palestine Director, Omar Shakir, was expelled from Israel for doing his job too well, in just one of many examples. Israel has also placed a travel ban on Shawan Jabarin, the director of the Palestinian human rights organization, al-Haq, and has held Mohammed al-Halabi, the Palestinian director of World Vision International in Gaza on unsubstantiated charges of funneling money to terrorists since 2016. That’s not to mention the vicious campaigns against Israel’s own human rights community.
Now, the weaponization of charges of antisemitism is gaining momentum, thanks to the twisting and misuse of the definition of antisemitism developed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. It was instrumental in politicizing the very real issue of antisemitism in the UK’s Labour Party and using it to stifle progressive politics, and it is being used for that purpose again. I look at it in the context of the consideration the U.S. State Department is giving to designating human rights groups, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Oxfam, among others, as antisemitic in my latest piece for The New Arab.