Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Hear, Hear! Department

From a piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, defines anti-Semitism as: "1: hostility toward Jews as a religious or racial minority group often accompanied by social, economic, and political discrimination - compare RACISM. 2: opposition to Zionism: sympathy with opponents of the state of Israel."

In a letter of protest last Sunday, the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee called on Merriam-Webster to "repudiate" the latter meaning and retract it.

Equating opposition to Israel with anti-Semitism, the Washington, DC–based group said, "smears and impugns the motives of all those who support the human and political rights of Palestinians" and "stigmatizes perfectly legitimate political opinions and activities."

I agree. There are a lot of things about the Israeli government's policies I oppose, and I think it's safe to say that I am not an anti-Semite.

Note, by the way, that the Third New International (known in the trade as Web 3) was last published in 1986. (I know this because, thanks to Ben Sullivan, who gave me the copy that belonged to Prognosis when that paper folded, I own it—thanks, Ben!)

On the other hand, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th edition (known in the trade as Web 10), published in 1995, defines the term simply as "hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group."

All of which is to say that I assume the new edition of Web 3 will employ a similarly less fraught definition.