ZOA chief Morton Klein
ZOA chief Morton KleinHezki Baruch

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has denounced the Biden administration’s National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, which was released on Thursday, for “serious flaws,” including not calling out Islamists and other antisemites and not fully adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism, while voicing support for other “dangerous” alternate definitions.

ZOA also criticized American Jewish organizations, such as the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Orthodox Union, along with White House Antisemitism Envoy Deborah Lipstadt, for praising the “Biden strategy while ignoring its serious flaws.”

“ZOA criticizes several alarming, harmful aspects of the Biden administration’s just-released 'National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism,'” ZOA National President Morton Klein said in a statement.

According to Klein, it is especially concerning that the National Strategy makes use of the “soft phrase” the US “has embraced” the IHRA definition, while it more strongly states in present tense that the Biden administration “welcomes and appreciates” the alternate “Nexus” definition of antisemitism, which he termed “dangerous.”

“In ZOA’s letter to President Biden urging him to solely adopt the helpful IHRA definition, ZOA explained that the NEXUS and JDA definitions shield and permit antisemitism that is masked as hatred for the Jewish state and Zionism.”

In the letter, ZOA wrote: “The JDA and the Nexus Document are dangerous, wrongly shielding antisemites who try to mask their hatred of Jews by expressing it as hatred for the Jewish state. For example, the Nexus Document states that opposition to Zionism – i.e., the right of the Jewish people to self-determination and to live as a nation-state in their religious and ancestral homeland – is not necessarily antisemitic. The Nexus Document fails to appreciate that for many if not most Jews, their connection to their religious and ancestral homeland is an essential part of their Jewish identity.”

ZOA pointed out that the Nexus Document states that “disproportionate focus on Israel and treating Israel differently than other countries cannot necessarily be considered antisemitic.”

But ZOA noted that “if Israel – the one and only Jewish state in the world – is singled out for criticism and punishment, then there can be no doubt that antisemitism is at play.”

ZOA asserted that the alternate JDA definition is “even more problematic” as it does not recognize that anti-Zionism, denying the Jewish people the right to self-determination, is antisemitic.

“It is thus deeply troubling that the Conference of Presidents, AJC, ADL, OU and other groups praised President Biden for supposedly adopting the IHRA definition in the Strategy – when the strategy only noted that the US has embraced this definition,” Klein said.

He also rebuked the groups for failing to mention that the Strategy “welcomed and appreciated” the alternate definitions.

“The harmful definitions allow antisemitism masked as hatred of Israel and Zionist to continue, unabated,” he said. “Biden accepting both a strong definition and a dangerous outrageous definition weakens and undermines the stronger accurate definition, and strengthens and gives credence to the appalling and dangerous Nexus and JDA definitions, which allow antisemitic actions to be accepted as legitimate and non-threatening to the Jewish people.”