March 30, 2021
Bassem Eid (Photo by Dianad23/Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license)
A Palestinian human rights activist accused the University of Minnesota (UMN) College Democrats of blocking him for expressing support for the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.
Bassem Eid, who is also a political analyst, wrote in a March 30 Times of Israel blog post that the UMN College Democrats had posted an Instagram statement against a campus-wide referendum adopting the IHRA definition, arguing that it silences Palestinians.
Eid claimed that he wrote a comment on the Instagram post stating that he’s “a Palestinian living in East Jerusalem. You’re trying to speak on behalf of Palestinians, which is lies. I care about my Jewish brothers and sisters. I support IHRA because it is the internationally accepted definition of antisemitism.” The College Democrat club proceeded to delete his comment and block him, Eid alleged.
“Does this sound like a group that cares about Palestinian voices?” Eid wrote. “The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism does NOT silence Palestinians; only the UMN College Democrats do that.”
Eid proceeded to argue the UMN College Democrats are out of touch with the Democratic Party as a whole, noting that the Biden administration supports it, as did the Obama administration before him. He also argued that IHRA actually makes it easier to criticize the Israeli government because it provides “a clear distinction between what does and does not cross the line and constitute antisemitism.” Eid concluded his piece urging the UMN College Democrats to reevaluate their position on IHRA and called on the student body to vote in favor of the referendum.
Eid told the Journal that after the club deleted his initial comment, he posted the comment again and accused the club of silencing him on their Instagram post. “They deleted my first comment and then when they realized they couldn’t win the debate, they disabled commenting and blocked me.” He sent the Journal the following screenshots:
Ultimately, the referendum did pass on March 29.
“We have always been grateful to Bassem Eid, a Palestinian, for speaking up about how the boycott movement against Israel harms Palestinians, and we are additionally grateful to him for standing up against those who would taint the IHRA definition of antisemitism,” StandWithUs co-founder and CEO Roz Rothstein said in a statement to the Journal. “Too often, anti-Semites want to retain the right to be antisemitic and are threatened by the passing of a definition that would serve to chill their words as being antisemitic. We commend UMN students for recognizing the need to take a stand against antisemitism and for committing to educate themselves about the discrimination that Jewish people face.”
The Stop Antisemitism.org watchdog similarly tweeted, “When this Palestinian man stood up for Jews, anti-Israel extremists silenced him, claiming they know better.”
Kenneth L. Marcus, founder and chairman of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, said in a statement to the Journal, “There have been numerous reports of anti-Semitic vandalism and harassment deliberately intended to frighten, silence and intimidate UMN Jewish students, similar to what we have seen on too many other campuses. In the face of this social evil, we commend the student body for passing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. It is encouraging to see students having the courage to assume moral leadership and to show the way for administrations to follow.”
He added that it is “wrong” to state that IHRA will infringe upon free speech, arguing that “in reality, it is often the free speech of Jewish students that is curtailed by anti-Semitism that is left unaddressed by administrators, just as students with different identities have been silenced by other forms of bigotry. We urge more student bodies and university administrations to follow the leadership displayed by UMN students.”
The UMN College Democrats did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.
Click here for the full article.