Jamie Stern-Weiner (Oxford) traces the genesis and evolution of a controversial 'working definition' of antisemitism.
The Working Definition of Antisemitism was originally presented in modest terms: a common reference point enabling monitoring bodies to collect data in a manner that permitted cross-country comparison. Some 15 years on, a formidable array of Jewish organisations and supportive Governments is lobbying around the world to have the Working Definition of Antisemitism institutionalised across political and social life. This juggernaut is everywhere provoking opposition - albeit disparate and poorly resourced - led by dissident Jewish groups and Palestinians. The Working Definition's advocates argue that, in order to combat antisemitism, one has to define it. This talk will examine the political genesis and instrumentalisation of the Working Definition to ask: Do we need a definition of antisemitism in order to fight it? If so, should it be this one? If not, what purpose does this definition serve?
Jamie Stern-Weiner is a DPhil candidate in Area Studies at the University of Oxford. He is the editor of Moment of Truth: Tackling Israel-Palestine's Toughest Questions (OR Books, 2018) and Antisemitism and the Labour Party (Verso, 2019).