Several US Cities Have Increased Policing of Palestine Solidarity

A part of the Sequence

Battle and Solidarity: Writing Towards Palestinian Liberation

In a number of cities throughout the U.S., the right-wing push for brand new legal guidelines to silence criticism of Israel for its human rights violations has reached a crescendo. As a part of a rising worldwide effort, Israel foyer teams have satisfied native jurisdictions in a number of U.S. states to undertake the controversial and overbroad definition of antisemitism utilized by the Worldwide Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which classifies nearly all expression in help of Palestinian rights as anti-Jewish.

In California, the West Hollywood, Manhattan Seashore and Los Angeles metropolis councils every adopted the IHRA definition within the final two months. In Maryland, the Montgomery County Council did the identical on November 2.

The adoption of the IHRA definition comes amid latest high-profile incidents of antisemitism, particularly Kanye West’s incendiary feedback about Jewish folks, and former President Trump internet hosting outspoken white nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes at his Mar-a-Lago property only a week after saying his 2024 run. Certainly, these in Montgomery County who voiced help for the definition referenced West’s hateful feedback for example of why it wanted to be enshrined as coverage.

Nevertheless, whereas purporting to fight antisemitism, the IHRA definition is primarily designed to protect Israel from criticism and in the end from efforts towards BDS — Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions. Seven of the IHRA definition’s eleven modern examples of antisemitism deal with the Israeli state — conflating Israel with Judaism as a complete. Amongst them are “making use of double requirements” to Israel, or claiming that Israel is “a racist endeavor.” Israel foyer teams are weaponizing the IHRA definition to punish and threaten constitutionally protected speech, particularly that of Palestinians describing Israel’s brutal army rule and denial of Palestinian freedom.

Even the lead drafter of the IHRA definition, Kenneth Stern, has argued towards its use in laws or coverage, stating that it serves as “an assault on tutorial freedom and free speech.” When adopted by municipalities, the IHRA definition expands the scope of policing by giving legislation enforcement one more software and pretense to surveil communities who converse out for Palestinian rights.

As an example, when West Hollywood officers adopted the IHRA definition, they claimed that it “serves as an necessary software for legislation enforcement [to] determine, measure, monitor, and in the end fight antisemitism.” Very like the post-9/11 “counter-terror” surveillance packages that devastated Muslim, Arab, Black and South Asian immigrant communities within the identify of nationwide safety — will the IHRA definition measure public security by way of how many individuals that legislation enforcement can censor, surveil and wrongfully criminalize?

For many years, the state of Israel has confronted rising worldwide condemnation for its racial discrimination and violent displacement of Palestinians. Worldwide watchdogs Amnesty Worldwide and Human Rights Watch have each launched studies accusing Israel of committing apartheid. Now, the IHRA definition is trying to smear these criticisms themselves as racist. Black and Brown activists difficult racist surveillance by the Los Angeles Police Division (LAPD) acknowledge the irony of this growth.

Akhil Gopal, a member of the Cease LAPD Spying Coalition based mostly within the Skid Row neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles, compares the logic of the IHRA definition to comparable laws that criminalizes predominantly Black communities for criticizing police violence. “The IHRA definition mirrors ‘Blue Lives Matter’ payments, which deal with legislation enforcement as a marginalized class. It’s a part of an effort to embed pro-Israel advocates inside authorized anti-discrimination, civil rights and hate crime infrastructures as a supposedly marginalized identification, with the intention to weaponize the language of ‘hate’ and ‘extremism’ towards Palestinians,” Gopal informed Truthout. “When the IHRA definition is adopted by municipalities, it encourages legislation enforcement to surveil communities for supposed infractions. As a coalition, now we have been organizing to reveal how surveillance isn’t just an invasion of privateness, however an inherent a part of criminalization.”

In accordance with analysis attained by Cease LAPD Spying, a minimum of one academic paper funded by the Division of Homeland Safety (DHS) has already instructed utilizing the IHRA definition as an indicator of extremism in its extensively denounced federal surveillance program, Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). Community organizations, civil liberties groups and coverage specialists have fiercely opposed CVE because it was launched, citing the methods during which this system criminalizes constitutionally protected speech, spiritual practices and political activism. The adoption of the definition by DHS could be a harmful enlargement and continuation of the “battle on terror’s” devastating influence on Muslim and immigrant communities throughout the U.S.

Celine Qussiny, a member of the Palestinian Youth Motion (PYM) in Los Angeles, explains that she has labored with Cease LAPD Spying, Black Alliance for Simply Immigration, Vigilant Love, and different group organizations “to oppose CVE, which racially profiles our communities and deputizes psychological well being suppliers, lecturers, and different service suppliers to report group members to legislation enforcement underneath false pretenses of extremism.” If the IHRA definition have been to be included into CVE, “we will anticipate a rise of studies accusing pro-Palestine speech and activism as ‘extremist.’ This isn’t solely an try to intimidate our communities and allies from constructing energy by native organizing, however to additionally restrain free speech, consequently diminishing the well being of our communities.”

Palestine Authorized, a civil rights group devoted to offering authorized help to the motion for Palestinian rights, has not too long ago found by public information requests that pro-Israel organizations have despatched PYM’s flyers and supplies to legislation enforcement, asking that Qussiny’s group be put underneath police surveillance and shut down. The makes an attempt to push the IHRA definition into legislation are simply the newest instance of the long-standing right-wing effort to redefine antisemitism as characterised primarily by criticism of Israel, moderately than as an interconnected ingredient of white supremacy and all types of racial bigotry. Roughly half of the incidents of suppression Palestine Authorized responds to every yr embrace false accusations of antisemitism, totaling 1,017 incidents from 2014 to 2021.

The adoption of the IHRA definition in a number of cities is just not solely harmful, but additionally surprisingly regressive contemplating the broad array of establishments which have rejected it. Each Palestinian and Jewish human rights organizations, in addition to main newspaper editorial boards, have opposed codifying the IHRA definition of antisemitism into legislation, together with the ACLU, the National Lawyers Guild, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Palestine Legal, Jewish Voice for Peace, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post.

Qussiny and Gopal’s organizations proceed to withstand the IHRA definition, and hope group opposition will stop it from persevering with to unfold throughout the U.S. and past. As a primary step, elected officers who’ve voted to undertake the IHRA definition ought to reverse their choices. Slightly than stopping assaults towards Jewish folks and Judaism, their adoption of the IHRA definition will criminalize Palestine solidarity whereas increasing the repressive instruments police use towards communities of colour extra broadly.

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