Defending Rights & Dissent and the National Coalition Against Censorship sent a letter to the Montgomery County, Maryland County Council expressing concern about a resolution expressing support for a controversial definition of anti-Semitism.
The proposed resolution intends to adopt the working definition of antisemitism used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) along with its 11 contemporary examples. Anti-Semitism is a reprehensible form of bigotry, however, several of the examples attached to the IHRA definition incorrectly equate constitutionally-protected criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, effectively chilling free speech.
The First Amendment squarely protects political speech, including criticism of any government, even Israel. No one should be censored for criticizing our own, or any other government. In America, we battle ideas we disagree with by championing better ideas, not by criminalizing or censoring speech.
The use of the IHRA definition, which relies on 11 contemporary examples, has been roundly criticized by civil liberties, human rights, and press freedom groups.
Defending Rights & Dissent is guided by the Bill of Rights, which was adopted to limit the power of the state over individuals and to preserve basic human and individual rights for every person under U.S. jurisdiction or control, even in times of war or other national crises, and regardless of who holds elected power.
In 2015, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and the Defending Dissent Foundation agreed to merge to place both organizations and their respective supporters in an even stronger position to help restore constitutional rights eroded by executive agencies.