Sunday, 20 Jun 2021 - 10 of Tammuz, 5781

European Commission publishes a ‘Handbook for the practical use of the IHRA definition of antisemitism’

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Jewish groups welcomed the publication by the European Commission of a Handbook for the practical use of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.

According to the Commission, the purpose of this guidance is:

-to present the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism, along with guiding examples, and to relate these to the contexts of real-world antisemitic incidents and crimes;

– to illustrate good practices in the application of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism and  to offer a checklist for using it across different policy areas.

The handbook was prepared by the Federal Association of Departments for Research and Information on Antisemitism (RIAS) and the Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers of the European Commission and published in cooperation with the IHRA.

“The importance of this handbook,” said Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, Director General of American Jewish Committee Europe, “is demonstrating how the Working Definition can be put to use to combat antisemitism. It is a necessary and valuable tool for all governments.”

“We welcome the publication of this guide, at a time when antisemitic conspiracy theories and the targeting of Jews is spreading across our continent,’’ said Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress. ‘’It is fundamentally important to give governments and security agencies the necessary guidelines to implement the IHRA definition so that it has practical use to physically protect Jewish communities from antisemitism.’’

The Working Definition of Antisemitism was adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in 2016. It is  a comprehensive definition that describes the hatred in all its various forms, including both traditional and contemporary manifestations. It has since been adopted by 18 EU Member States along with other countries in Europe and around the world.

The definition states that ‘’Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.’’

Accompanying the definition are eleven illustrative examples (see below). Leaders of the United Nations, the Organization for American States, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the European Commission, among others, have in recent years called for its adoption.

To guide IHRA in its work, the following examples may serve as illustrations:

Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.

Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews 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 collective — such as, 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, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.

Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).

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 interests of their own nations.

Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.

Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

Antisemitic acts are criminal when they are so defined by law (for example, denial of the Holocaust or distribution of antisemitic materials in some countries).

Criminal acts are antisemitic when the targets of attacks, whether they are people or property – such as buildings, schools, places of worship and cemeteries – are selected because they are, or are perceived to be, Jewish or linked to Jews.

Antisemitic discrimination is the denial to Jews of opportunities or services available to others and is illegal in many countries.

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