chapter  5
19 Pages

Struggles over defining antisemitism

ByDavid Hirsh

This chapter focuses on struggles over how antisemitism is defined. It traces a genealogy of the European Union Monitoring Centre (EUMC) on Racism and Xenophobia, now the Agency For Fundamental Rights (FRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism. The chapter shows how the definition emerged originally out of a process of splitting between the global antiracist movement on the one hand and Jewish-led opposition to antisemitism on the other. It looks at the specific ways in which the boycott movement in the University and College Union (UCU), at every stage, went to great lengths explicitly to insist that what it did could not be understood as antisemitic. The chapter suggests that these wholehearted rejections of claims about antisemitism are themselves implicated in the functioning of contemporary antisemitism. It is necessary to see how antisemitism operates within the complexity of human and social movements, how elements of rhetoric move from one discursive field to another, how modes of denial and reassurance operate.