Dictionary Defines Opposition to Zionism as "Anti-Semitism"

March 13, 2004

Source: The Washington Post


On March 13, 2004 The Washington Post reported, "A leading Arab American civil rights organization has asked Merriam-Webster Inc. to publicly repudiate what the group calls a 'false and damaging' definition of anti-Semitism in the unabridged version of Webster's Third New International Dictionary. That dictionary lists, as one of the meanings of anti-Semitism, 'opposition to Zionism: sympathy with opponents of the state of Israel.' In its complaint to Merriam-Webster, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee also asked the company to delete the definition in future reprintings of the 2,662-page dictionary's current edition and to insert a correction sheet into printings already made. Leaving the definition uncorrected, the committee said in a March 3 letter, 'smears and impugns the motives of all those who support the human and political rights of Palestinians; undermines the efforts of Arab and Jewish groups working for Middle East peace [and] stigmatizes legitimate political opinions and activities.' Merriam-Webster spokesman Arthur Bicknell said the company has no plans to immediately change the definition. But he added that because the definition no longer reflects current usage, 'it is likely that [it] will be changed or eliminated' in the dictionary's fourth edition, which will be published in seven to 10 years. Hussein Ibish, director of communications for the anti-discrimination committee, called Merriam-Webster's response 'totally unacceptable.'"