Palestinian Rights, the IHRA Definition, & the Battle Around Biden’s Antisemitism Strategy


In this episode of FMEP’s Occupied Thoughts podcast, FMEP President Lara Friedman speaks with Yousef Munayyer (Arab Center Washington DC) & Emma Saltzberg (Diaspora Alliance), in the context of the newly-release US National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism (released by the White House May 25, 2023) and the its implications for both the fight against antisemitism and the ongoing, related fight against the use of antisemitism accusations to delegitimize criticism of the state of Israel and its policies and objections to the political ideology of Zionism, as well as to attack and to silence critics of Israel and advocates for Palestinian history, identity, and rights.

Occupied Thoughts by FMEP · Palestinian Rights, the IHRA Definition, & the Battle Around Biden’s Antisemitism Strategy

Recorded June 5, 2023

You can also watch this conversation on YouTube

Participant Biographies

Yousef Munayyer, PhD, is a non-resident Fellow at Arab Center Washington DC (ACW). He writes on the Arab-Israeli conflict and is a member of the editorial committee of the Journal of Palestine Studies. Some of his published articles can be found in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, Boston Globe, Foreign Policy, Journal of Palestine Studies, Middle East Policy, and others. Dr. Munayyer holds a PhD in International Relations and Comparative Politics from the University of Maryland. He tweets at @YousefMunayyer.

Emma Saltzberg is an organizer, researcher, and strategist based in Brooklyn, NY. She has worked in the progressive movement and American Jewish politics for nearly a decade. Currently, Emma serves as US Strategic Campaigns Director for Diaspora Alliance, promoting understanding of how antisemitism works and how to fight it while protecting democratic values. Emma co-founded IfNotNow, a movement of young Jews working to end American Jewish support for the Occupation. She has conducted original survey research into public opinion on U.S. Israel/Palestine policy as a senior fellow with Data for Progress, and mixed-methods qualitative research into Jewish politics in Florida with Jews Against White Nationalism. She has also worked in social policy, the labor movement, and progressive electoral politics. Emma is an alumna of the 2021-22 cohort of Western States Center’s Defending Democracy Fellowship. She holds an M.A. in Politics from the New School for Social Research and a B.A. magna cum laude from Amherst College in Political Science.

Resources related to this podcast

US National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism (5/25/23)

The Definitions in Play

Analysis of the Biden Strategy

Legacy Jewish Organizations on the Biden Strategy

Attack on CUNY student

ADL Webinar ft. State Dept Envoy for fighting antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt

  • Video
    • Lipstadt suggesting that the strategy is in fact an emphatic endorsement of the IHRA definition, starting around 26:34
    • The ADL moderator question for Lipstadt drawing a parallel between a white supremacist massacring Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue and a CUNY law student harshly criticized Israeli policies in her graduation speech, starting at around 42:22
    • Lipstadt factually misrepresenting a protest at George Washington University against an event featuring a former IDF official as an anti-Jewish attack on students celebrating Sukkot, starting at around 43:49
    • Lipstadt distancing the entire strategy from CAIR, and Greenblatt bashing CAIR and snarking that CAIR’s endorsement of the plan means they have in effect signed on to IHRA and the view that anti-Zionism = antisemtism (and Greenblatt piling on misrepresenting the Fall 2023 protest at GW, suggesting that protesters interrupted a “religious service” with a political statement), starting at around 44:22.

Diaspora Alliance Resources

FMEP resources on IHRA definition & related controversy

Compendium of FMEP resources on the debate around the IHRA definition (including research, articles, podcasts, and webinars)

FMEP 5-part seriesThe IHRA Definition & the Fight Against Antisemitism: A webinar series examining how a problematic definition of antisemitism is being used to quash criticism of Israel and threaten freedom of speech