How JDA can and cannot advance Palestinian rights | Israeli-Palestinian conflict

On April 21, before the recent Israeli-Palestinian violence escalated, Professor Mark Muhannad Ayash provide Creatively read the Jerusalem Anti-Semitism Declaration (JDA) on this website. He carefully selected several phrases in this document, and injected it with condemnation of Palestinian or pro-Palestinian political speech, hidden marginalization, or presumed irrationality.

When I read Professor Ayyash’s argument, I found myself wishing that he had used a phrase often quoted in the musical “Hamilton”, “in the room where it happened.” As one of the 20 people who participated in the debate and helped draft the JDA, my personal experience confirms that our explicit intentions obscured any effort to subtly link our work to Orientalist assumptions or to belittle Palestinians or other political views.

At the same time, among the various supporters of JDA, even those who condemn the challenging conditions and severe power inequality faced by the Palestinians, admit that our documents are not helpful. This is because JDA aims to help clarify the meaning of anti-Semitism in order to help deal with the continuing challenges posed by this particular form of prejudice. From an interconnected whole, the JDA aims to partially prevent the weaponization of an important struggle against anti-Semitic prejudice, which opposes open and powerful statements related to Palestine-Israel.

In fact, JDA’s target audience is Jewish and non-Jewish leaders, and others who are particularly concerned about anti-Semitism. When JDA was created, the drafters realized that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism was a remarkable and influential piece of ambiguity and limitations in previous efforts to define anti-Semitism on a global scale. The political consequences. This influence has caused some organizations and activists affiliated with or supporting the Israeli policy under Netanyahu to urge other governments and groups to adopt IHRA and deploy it specifically to restrict or legalize political speech that criticizes the Israeli state’s policies towards the Palestinians.?.

In providing a clear definition of anti-Semitism and exemplifying broad expressions related to Israeli politics and Zionism that are unlikely to fall into this definition, JDA refocused the global anti-Semitism struggle on where it belongs, as A sinister expression of many global prejudices against historically oppressed groups. Like members of many groups, including the Palestinians, they found themselves victims of their group status. The Jews who constituted the majority of the drafters of the JDA tried to determine the special circumstances that may exist in anti-Semitic prejudice within the scope of their rights. It also looks for common causes with other victims of mass prejudice or genocide attempts. In short, the field of JDA is a group affected by persistent prejudice and violent patterns. They try to perfect their efforts to deal with these patterns, in part by addressing anti-Semitism and other types of speech that some Jews or Israelis may not like. However, on the surface, they do not conform to the historical understanding of anti-Semitic prejudice.

However, JDA has been criticized for devoting too much space to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. In its numerous examples, it does not have enough space to avoid a clear statement against Zionism or the current anti-Palestinian politics of the Israeli state. . Each of these criticisms failed to grasp the basic points. In other words, the recent politicization of the IHRA definition, because it is interpreted as a specific way to eliminate pro-Palestinian speech and anti-Semitism, needs further clarification to separate the basic purpose of Palestinian-Israeli politics from the definition of anti-Semitism, that is, to combat anti-Semitism. Ism.

For the first criticism, the JDA drafters worked hard to formulate detailed guidelines that indicated that the various expressions related to Israel may not be anti-Semitism, but to put the controversial politics surrounding Palestinian rights into the typical realm of contemporary anti-Semitism. Outside. The goal is to focus on clear manifestations of anti-Semitic prejudice, which reflect historical patterns and are usually associated with whites or other right-wing nationalist groups in the most dangerous form, as in the example in Part A. JDA’s restraint in describing characteristics The most likely source of contemporary anti-Semitism has been a topic of criticism. But the drafters believed that their role was to explain the expression of prejudice against the Jews, not to describe the source of such prejudice or to put forward political opinions.

In response to criticisms that did not make it clearer about Palestinian rights, JDA strives not to take a stand on Israeli-Palestinian politics at all, and its drafters and signatories have no common stand. On the contrary, we believe in the importance of opening the door to heated debates and disagreements on the political issues of Israel and Palestine and the best future results. If you read carefully, JDA recommends in point 12 that the advocacy of a political model or system different from the current Israeli state, such as a single political entity jointly managed and shared by current Israelis and Palestinians, should not be presumed to be anti-Semitism.

Contrary to Professor Ayyash’s concern that JDA is simply Orientalism or Zionist supremacy masquerading as liberalism, this is likely to be seen as very controversial and challenging in many Israeli and overseas Jewish communities, and is in line with IHRA’s The examples are contradictory. This and other examples in the document are aimed at those seeking clarification and policy promotion to reduce anti-Semitism, partly because political speech should not be assumed, even if it is impolite political speech, regardless of its origin, it is anti-Semitic. Unless such remarks portray Jews as Jews in a racist way.

The key principle of this document is that the JDA guidelines can help assess the overall context of the statement. This background is likely to include the status and specific experience of the Palestinians in Israeli state power, as well as others who have witnessed these experiences, including some Jews. Of course, as Professor Ayyash has done, the views surrounding Israel and Palestine in the JDA may be interpreted by people with different positions in a way that is completely different from their goals and backgrounds, especially if the positions do not directly revolve around the internal politics of Jews and other political groups. . Work hard to combat anti-Semitism.

Finally, JDA is not and cannot be a document that directly resolves Palestine or any political issues or improves Palestinian rights. The only intersection between JDA and Palestinian politics is its refusal to characterize any statement that strongly criticizes Israeli politics or practices as inherently or necessarily stained with anti-Semitism. This rejection was supported by the respected pluralistic, multinational, and representative academic community of Judaism, anti-Semitism, and the Middle East.

Therefore, although JDA is unlikely to influence Palestinian-Israeli politics, it is part of the increasingly open political stance among American Jews and the public to criticize Israel and/or support Palestinians. In view of the recent Israeli-Gaza conflict, this important trend has accelerated. The goal of JDA is to respond to the global threat of anti-Semitic prejudice and to cool political discourse about Israel in a useful way, not an overly broad tool, which is ambitious. Based on Professor Ayash’s similar concerns about Orientalism, in my opinion, it is inappropriate for JDA to further desire to take a stand on the Palestinian issue. However, it may help clear the way for others.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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