Identifying Antisemitic Activity

Defining Antisemitism

AMCHA Initiative employs the definition of antisemitic activity, “Defining Antisemitism,”adopted by the U.S. Department of State, under the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004.  Included in the definition, and explicitly recognized by the U.S. State Department as forms of antisemitism, are behavior, rhetoric or imagery that:

  • Uses symbols and images Associated with historical antisemitism, by making “mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such, or the power of Jews as a collective-especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, governments, or other societal institutions.”
  • Accuses Jews and Israel of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust
  • Demonizes Israel by using “the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism to characterize Israel or Israelis,” e.g. claims that Israelis are evil or blood-thirsty and deliberately murder children, or Jews control the world
  • Draws comparisons of Jews to Nazis.
  • Delegitimizes Israel by suggesting that Israel is an illegitimate state and does not belong in the family of nations.
  • Denies the Jewish people their right to self-determination, by denying Israel the right to exist or promoting the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state.
  • Condones or expresses support for terrorism against Israel or Jews, by calling for, aiding or justifying the killing or harming of Jews.

In addition, AMCHA Initiative has added two categories, which are consistent with U.S. Department of State’s definition of antisemitism, although not explicitly stated within it.  These include behavior, rhetoric or imagery that:

  • Promotes boycott, divestment, sanctions against Israel. Virtually all recent campaigns to boycott, sanction, and divest from Israel (BDS) were established in response to the political call issued by 171 Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations, July 9, 2005. The first and primary signatory of the Palestinian BDS Call was the Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine, which, according to the Anti-Defamation League, was founded by Yasser Arafat at the start of the Second Intifada in 2000 for the purpose of “organizing a unified effort among major Palestinian factions to oppose Israel and coordinate terror attacks.” The Council includes among its constituent organizations Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and PFLP – General Command, all three of which are on the U.S. Department of State’s list of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations and are committed to the elimination of the Jewish state through violent means. Many of the founders of the BDS campaigns which were established in response to the Palestinian BDS Call have publicly expressed their goal of using BDS as a non-violent means of weakening the Jewish state and aiding in its elimination. Some BDS campaign founders have even condoned terrorism against Israel and the murder of Jews.  Because the promotion of BDS demonizes, delegitimizes and applies a double standard it is identified as an antisemitic activity.
  • Targets Jewish students for discrimination, harassment, or intimidation.  Based on the legal standards of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act as interpreted by the U.S. Department of Education, any behavior, rhetoric or imagery that singles out and/or targets Jewish students for discrimination, harassment, intimidation or violence eg. by disrupting Jewish student events, interfering with Jewish students’ rights of free speech and association, or causing harm to Jewish students or their property, thereby denying them the ability to fully participate in, or derive equal benefit from, any University program or activity, is antisemitic.


Tools to Identify Antisemitism


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Forms of Antisemitic Activity


  • Using Symbols and Images Associated with Historical Anti-Semitism
    …..e.g. claiming that Jews/Israelis
    …..murder children for ritual
    …..purposes or that.Jews/Israel
    …..control the world
  • Accusing Jews and Israel of Inventing or Exaggerating the Holocaust
  • Demonizing Israel
    …..e.g. claiming that Israel is blood-
    …..thirsty or inherently evil
  • Comparing Jews to Nazis
  • Delegitimizing Israel
    …..e.g. suggesting that Israel is an
    …..illegitimate state and should
    …..therefore be eliminated from
    …..the family of nations
  • Denying Jews Their Right to Self-Determination
    …..e.g. promoting the elimination of
    …..the Jewish state or denying its
  • Condoning Terrorism Against Jews, Supporting Terrorist Organizations
  • Promoting Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Against Israel
    …..e.g. boycott Israeli academics, or
    … to harm or eliminate Israel
    … a Jewish state
  • Targeting Jewish Students for Discrimination, Harassment, or Intimidation
    …..e.g. disrupting Jewish student
    …,.interfering with Jewish
    …..students’ rights of free speech
    …..and association, or causing harm
    … Jewish students or.their