By: Aryeh Savir
Israel welcomed the publication of the ‘Handbook for the Practical Use of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism’ by the European Commission as “a highly important document” that will help combat anti-Semitism on the Continent.
The document was commissioned by the European Commission and published jointly with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), with support from the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Lior Haiat, the spokesperson for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated Sunday that Israel expresses its appreciation to Katharina von Schnurbein, the EU’s Coordinator on combating anti-Semitism and fostering Jewish life, her team, and to the European Commission for “the uncompromising commitment to fight against the ugly and dangerous phenomenon of anti-Semitism, which is only growing.”
“The Handbook is a highly important document that will assist in supporting the implementation of the IHRA definition as a central instrument in the fight against anti-Semitism,” he added.
The IHRA has 34 member countries and seven observer countries. Acceptance to the IHRA depends on the counties’ adherence to the Stockholm Declaration on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research of January 28, 2000, as well as several other conditions.
Several countries adopted the IHRA definition in 2020, including Muslim countries for the first time, Bahrain and Albania, and Muslim institutions, the Global Council of Imams and King Hamad Global Center for Peaceful Coexistence.
The IHRA adopted in 2016 the working-definition of anti-Semitism, according to which anti-Semitism is “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
The IHRA states that anti-Semitic examples include denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor, comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and leveling accusations against Jewish citizens of various countries that they are more loyal to Israel than to their own countries.
The United Kingdom, Austria, Scotland, Romania, Canada, Germany, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Moldova, Macedonia, the US, Greece, Belgium, Slovenia, Sweden, Holland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Luxemburg, France, Cyprus, Italy, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Serbia and Argentina, Kosovo, Albania and Spain are all members.
The IHRA working definition for anti-Semitism, while not legally binding, has become a widely used tool around the world to educate people about anti-Semitism, as well as recognize and counter its manifestations.
Based on the comprehensive research carried out by the Federal Association of Departments for Research and Information on Antisemitism, the newly published handbook provides an overview of good practices by international organizations, national administrations, civil society and Jewish communities from across Europe.
The European Commission Vice President for “Protecting our European Way of Life” Margaritis Schinas stated that “we need to fight anti-Semitism whenever we encounter it. Jewish life is part of our societies and we are determined to protect it.”
“The handbook will become another valuable tool for Member States to effectively implement the landmark Council Declaration on combating antisemitism,” he added.