The US State Department is expected to announce plans to create a new governmental process that would officially designate some groups, including NGOs and human rights organisations, as antisemitic.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has reportedly decided to establish the mechanism and is expected to make the announcement soon, but three people familiar with the issue told Politico that he could still change his mind and hold off on making such plans public.
So far, which groups would be classified as antisemitic is unclear, but Politico reported Pompeo had been considering for months whether to label Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Oxfam under the proposed process amid their criticism of the Israeli government’s human rights violations.
If created, groups designated antisemitic would lose any US government support – financially or otherwise – with the State Department potentially urging other governments to follow suit.
So far, the yet-to-be-released proposal has drawn “fierce internal pushback” within the State Department, Politico reported, as well as condemnation from legislators.
The State Department did not reply to Middle East Eye’s request for comment by the time of this article’s publication.
‘These groups defend human rights’
If the State Department follows through on creating the mechanism it could very well be scrapped once President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January.
When first reported in October, Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin warned against the idea, calling it “dangerous”.
“These groups defend human rights, freedom & tolerance for all,” Raskin said on Twitter at the time.
Those objecting to the idea warned that such a process may have chilling effects on freedom of speech and would likely open the door to litigation.
There are also concerns that such a move could embolden dictators and other world leaders to crack down on human rights organisations, among others.
Egypt has already passed several laws that restrict human rights groups including HRW and Amnesty International and has imprisoned and deported rights advocates. The governments of Venezuala and Iran have also expelled HRW staff, among other civil society advocates.
Last year, Israel deported HRW’s Israel and Palestine Director,