Israeli government colluded with Zionist billionaires to write America’s authoritarian antisemitism laws
05/15/2024 // Cassie B. // Views

Anti-war protests are taking place throughout the nation, with many student protests on college campuses being shut down based on claims of antisemitism – even though most of them do not target Jewish people and are aimed solely at calling for an end to genocide in Gaza. Likewise, claims of antisemitism are being used as an excuse to censor people online who are not supportive of Israel’s military actions. How did a country founded on principles like freedom of speech end up in this position?

Journalist and political analyst Jonas Vesterberg, writing for the National File, recently took a deep dive into the origins of antisemitism laws and how they have been used to ensure no one says anything negative about Israel. In many cases, these laws can be traced to the efforts of wealthy Israeli expatriates working alongside the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to keep criticism of Zionism and Israel at bay.

He also draws attention to the most extreme effort in this regard, which also happens to be the most recent: The Antisemitism Awareness Act, which was passed by Congress last week.

The bill aims to facilitate hate crime prosecutions against individuals who protest against Israel’s actions in Gaza on college campuses, and it applies a very broad definition of the term “antisemitism” in an attempt to target as many protesters as possible.

The definition of “antisemitic” hate speech under the Antisemitism Awareness Act appears in a lengthy list that was published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). Some of the definitions are fairly straightforward and obvious, such as “calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.”

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Others, however, are much looser and seem to have a “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” vibe to them. For example, one definition is “Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.” Similarly, “claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor” also falls under their definition.

These definitions were adopted by the bill despite criticism about their Constitutional implications, such as Foundation for Middle East Peace President Lara Friedman’s warning in Jewish Currents: “Parts of that definition conflate antisemitism with both criticism of Israel and anti-Zionism; as a result, the implications of this new legislation for free speech are alarming.”

Even the author of the IHRA’s definition, Jewish scholar Kenneth Stern, believes it has been “subverted” and insists it was not meant to be used to restrict free speech. Speaking to The Times of Israel, he explained: “There was never any idea that this would be used as a de facto hate speech code on campus.”

Wealthy expats linked to Israeli government working to keep critics censored

According to Vesterberg, numerous legislative efforts that have made their way through Congress and state legislatures that are about fighting antisemitism on the surface but really target criticism of Israel and Zionism can be traced to wealthy Israeli expats in the United States with links to the Israeli government. Zionist billionaires like Haim Saban, Sheldon Adelson and Adam Milstein are among the names involved.

Another individual who has played a key role is Israeli American Council attorney Joseph Sabag, who was behind Florida’s controversial antisemitism bill HB 741, which the state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, signed in Israel in 2019. His bio for the group notes: “In just the last 6 years, he has led drafting and successful advocacy of legislation and key policy resolutions supporting Israel and combatting anti-Semitism in over two-thirds the states in America.”

However, it’s Sabag’s bio on X that is far more telling. In his profile page, he identifies himself as “Chief Pest Control Officer” – which is widely being interpreted as an implication that Palestinians are “pests” he seeks to “control”.

Sources for this article include:

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