State Department Definition of Anti-Semitism

What is anti-Semitism?

With anti-Semitic ideology on the rise globally, the word has increasingly become a part of today’s dialogue, but what does it mean?

Simply put, anti-Semitism is racism, bigotry, or discrimination against Jews on the basis of their religion. Hatred of Jews is no new phenomenon, but we have seen anti-Semites energized in recent years by new developments in technology that allow them to spread their hate more easily online.

Because anti-Semitism is racism, there can be no room for confusion regarding what is and is not anti-Semitic. In attempt to make that clear Then-President Barack Obama had his state department create a memo defining and giving examples of anti-Semitism in 2010. (Seen Below)

Sadly, we are still seeing anti-Semitic language being used in our daily lives from the darkest depths of the internet, to college campuses, and even in the halls of congress.

Defeat Anti-Semitism and its members are calling on the Democratic National Committee to adopt this definition of anti-Semitism, and to hold those who use anti-Semitic tropes accountable for their actions.

Defining anti-Semitism

“Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”


  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews (often in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion).
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective—especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, the state of Israel, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interest of their own nations.


Examples of the ways in which anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel, taking into account the overall context could include:

  • Demonizing Israel
    • Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis
  • Blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions
  • Double Standard for Israel
    • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation
    • Multilateral organizations focusing on Israel only for peace or human rights investigations
  • Delegitimizing Israel
    • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist

Source: President Obama’s State Department