Defining Antisemitism

WHEREAS prejudice and discrimination based on religion have caused untold human suffering throughout recorded history; and

WHEREAS anti-Jewish hostility, usually called antisemitism, has taken various forms over the centuries and has been perpetrated by many groups throughout history; and

WHEREAS the intense prejudice, discrimination and hatred that grew out of long-standing antisemitism led to the Holocaust, perpetrated in Europe by the Nazis in the 1940s, which eventuated in the brutal annihilation of six million Jews; and

WHEREAS antisemitic acts of violence in the United States are increasing alarmingly, with 1,821 reported in 2004, the highest level in nine years and an increase of 17% over the number reported in 2003; and

WHEREAS “The increasing frequency and severity of antisemitic incidents since the start of the 21st century, particularly in Europe, has compelled the international community to focus on antisemitism with renewed vigor”; and

WHEREAS the United States Congress has approved the Global Antisemitism Awareness/Review Act, which acknowledges a disturbing increase in antisemitism and establishes an office in the State Department to monitor and combat antisemitism worldwide.; and

WHEREAS the 2005 Survey of American Attitudes Towards Jews in America by the Anti-Defamation League found that 14% of Americans or nearly 35 million adults, hold views about Jews that are “unquestionably antisemitic” and

WHEREAS much antisemitism today takes the form of “modern” or “new” antisemitism, in which actual bias against Jews is denied while prejudiced attitudes exist and discriminatory statements or acts are engaged in; and

WHEREAS this form of antisemitism may be more difficult for its perpetrators to identify and challenge, as their beliefs about themselves may be that they are not biased against Jews; and

WHEREAS this form of antisemitism may be asserted in the context of discourse regarding the actions of the Government of Israel, thus further disguising the antisemitic nature of the discourse; and

WHEREAS the link between extreme anti-Israel rhetoric and deeds directed against Jewish individuals and communities has become an observable global trend and has at times unleashed demonization and dehumanization of Jews; and

WHEREAS every antisemitic act creates a climate of fear, anxiety and insecurity, both for the individual and the community; as such therefore, Jews are exposed to suffering the feelings of vulnerability, anger, depression and other sequelae of victimization; and

WHEREAS antisemitic acts also harm the perpetrators by desensitizing them to violence, and raise concerns about their generalizing such acts to other groups; and

WHEREAS the American Psychological Association has recognized the profound psychological consequences of hate crimes motivated by prejudice; and

WHEREAS the American Psychological Association opposes prejudice and discrimination based upon race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or physical condition (APA, 2002); and

WHEREAS as psychologists we respect the dignity and worth of all people and are committed to improving the condition of individuals, organizations, and society, we are aware of and respect cultural, individual, and role differences among individuals, including (but not limited to) those based on ethnicity, national origin, and religion; and

WHEREAS psychologists recognize and protect civil and human rights and strive to help the public develop informed judgments and choices concerning human behavior:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the American Psychological Association condemns all antisemitic attitudes and actions, both overt and covert, and will use its influence to promote fairness, respect, and dignity for all people, regardless of religion or ethnicity, in all arenas in which psychologists work and practice, and in society at large.

HEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the American Psychological Association will take a leadership role in opposing antisemitism.

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the American Psychological Association encourages all psychologists to act to eliminate all discrimination of an antisemitic nature.

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the American Psychological Association encourages research to better understand the characteristics, causes, and consequences of both overt and covert antisemitic and Anti-Jewish prejudice.

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the American Psychological Association will include appropriate information on antisemitism in its multicultural and diversity training material and activities, and that diversity and multicultural efforts will take cognizance of antisemitism, whether subtle or not, and will attempt to overcome it.

(from APA Resolution on Anti-Semitic and Anti-Jewish Prejudice American Psychologist 2008 © adapted with permission).