|The Montgomery County Council was initially scheduled to consider a harmful and overly expansive definition of anti-Semitism on July 26 Hundreds of community members made their voices heard. “This is a great decision by the Montgomery County Council, and a victory for free speech.”|
|Washington, D.C. | www.adc.org | July 24, 2022 – Over the past few days the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has been in dialogue with members and officials from the Montgomery County Council pertaining to a proposed agenda item at the next Council meeting which would redefine anti-Semitism. |
Montgomery County is the most most populous county in Maryland, located just outside of Washington, D.C. ADC has been informed that the Council decided to remove the item from the agenda. We welcome this decision by the Council and are committed to continued dialogue with Montgomery County officials as we work to tackle all forms of hate and bigotry. The proposed resolution, which was set to be discussed at the next Council meeting on Tuesday July 26 would have the County adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) re-definition of anti-Semitism.
The proposed definition institutionalizes a re-definition that conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, making it difficult to fight against real hate and bigotry. ADC Legislative and Policy Coordinator Chris Habiby states, “This is a great decision by the Montgomery County Council, and a victory for free speech. Throughout the weekend the Council heard from hundreds of our community members in the County, and this decision was done in the best interest of the county and all its residents.”
By expanding the definition of anti-Semitism to encompass political speech, the resolution chills constitutionally protected speech. Already, the IHRA definition has been used to target several civil society and university organizations including Amnesty International, Black Lives Matter, the American Friends Services Committee, Doctors without Borders, and Harvard’s Crimson newspaper.
It has also been used towards human rights activists including Cornel West, CNN Commentator Marc Lamont Hill and the late Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu. If similar action is being considered by your local city or county council, please contact ADC for assistance in addressing the issue – send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for support.