On 20 September, the German Government endorsed the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism during its cabinet meeting. The endorsement of the working definition was in line with the recommendations made by an independent group of experts on the topic of antisemitism.
The endorsement of the working definition was intended to send a strong signal in the fight against antisemitism. "We Germans are particularly vigilant when our country is threatened by an increase in antisemitism," said Minister of the Interior, Thomas de Maizière, following the meeting on Wednesday morning. "History made clear to us, in the most terrible way, the horrors to which antisemitism can lead."
"I very much welcome the endorsement of the working definition of antisemitism by the German Government," said Ambassador Felix Klein, Head of the German Delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and Special Envoy for Relations with Jewish Organizations. "In order to address the problem of antisemitism, it is very important to define it first and this working definition can provide guidance on how antisemitism can manifest itself. Following the adoption of the working definition by 31 Member Countries at the IHRA plenary in May 2016, I am pleased to see a number of countries are also introducing it on a national level. We are proud to join Austria, Israel, Romania, Scotland and the United Kingdom in affirming that there is no place for antisemitism in any society and we call on other states to follow."
Mark Weitzman, former Chair of IHRA's Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial who helped spearhead IHRA's adoption of the working definition said "We commend Germany for taking this important step. Endorsement of the Working Definition of Antisemitism shows that Germany is committed to confronting antisemitism in all its forms and is an example of moral and political leadership."
Dr. Robert Williams, the current Chair of the Committee, said "Germany's endorsement demonstrates a clear understanding that this working definition helps identify the many forms that antisemitism can take today. In a time of rising antisemitism it provides clarity to those dealing with the problem and can be an extremely useful tool in educating and combating antisemitism on all levels."
For more information, please consult the fact sheet on the working definition of antisemitism and the press release on the adoption of the working definition of antisemitism in May 2016.
In October 2013 the IHRA's 31 Member Countries also adopted a working definition of Holocaust denial and distortion.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance unites governments and experts to strengthen, advance and promote Holocaust education, remembrance and research worldwide and to uphold the commitments of the 2000 Stockholm Declaration.
The working definition of antisemitism:
Bucharest, 26 May 2016
In the spirit of the Stockholm Declaration that states: “With humanity still scarred by …antisemitism and xenophobia the international community shares a solemn responsibility to fight those evils” the committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial called the IHRA Plenary in Budapest 2015 to adopt the following working definition of antisemitism.
On 26 May 2016, the Plenary in Bucharest decided to:
Adopt the following non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism:
“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.”
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). Adopt the following non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism: “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.” 2
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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