(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 07/18/2023) — The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today joined community partners in calling on the Clifton City Council to uphold the principles of free speech and to reject the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.
The Clifton City Council will be deliberating on adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism on Tuesday, July 18 at a general council meeting at 8pm.
Antisemitism is generally defined as prejudice against and/or hatred of those who identify as Jewish or are associated with Judaism. The IHRA definition of antisemitism expands antisemitism to also include critiques or criticisms of Israel, including Israeli settler colonialism, occupation of the West Bank, its apartheid leveraged against Palestinians, and the ethnic cleansing and oppression of the Palestinian people. Numerous human rights groups, including the major Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, have found these to be violations of international human rights law.
In a statement, CAIR-NJ Government Affairs Manager Madina P. Ouedraogo said:
“The IHRA definition wrongly conflates criticisms of Israel with antisemitism. It silences political debate and muzzles critics of Israel and its far-right racist government. It also delegitimizes the Palestinian movement for self-determination.
“Adopting the IHRA definition in any capacity poses a threat to residents’ free speech and stifles political discourse in the classroom. We are optimistic that the Clifton City Council will protect residents’ rights and reject the definition.”
In a statement, Palestinian American Community Center Executive Director Rania Mustafa said:
“PACC was established in 2014 and over the last 9 and a half years, our existence has been a testament to the fact we have become an integral and staple part of the city of Clifton, but adopting the IHRA definition threatens the existence of our community-oriented and civic engagement work.
“As an organization we stand firmly against any form of antisemitism, but if this resolution passes, much of our educational work will be put at risk. We cannot teach about the Palestinian struggle or for social and humanitarian justice without calling out Israel, which, based on the IHRA definition, would be deemed as antisemitic.
“We urge the City Council to combat bigotry in all its form and shapes, but absolutely not at the expense of another community — and definitely not at the expense of our growing Palestinian community.”
In a statement, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return Co-Founder David Letwin said:
“As a Jewish resident of Northern New Jersey, and a descendant of victims of antisemitic violence, from Tsarist pogroms to the Holocaust, I strongly urge you not to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) ‘Working Definition of Antisemitism.’
“Misrepresenting itself as a framework for understanding antisemitism, the IHRA definition is in fact a contrivance to smear and silence those who rightly condemn the racism inherent in Zionism and the apartheid Israeli regime.
“Formally enshrining the sham IHRA definition will serve no purpose other than to undermine local solidarity with Palestinians seeking justice throughout their historic homeland. I once again implore you to reject it.”
In a statement, American Muslims for Palestine New Jersey Chair Wassim Kanaan said:
“IHRA’s weaponizing of anti-Semitism as a means to stifle advocacy for Palestinian human rights is unethical.
“Criticism of Israel is rooted in its oppressive policies toward the Palestinian people, not identity. The effort to adopt IHRA in Clifton is not isolated, rather it is part of a broader plan to stop the growing shift in American public opinion calling for Justice for the Palestinian people.”
CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Dina Sayedahmed, email@example.com, 551-221-5592