Working Definition of Antisemitism
The IHRA’s Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial worked to build international consensus around a non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism
ABOUT THE IHRA WORKING DEFINITION OF ANTISEMITISM:
The IHRA is the only intergovernmental organization mandated to focus solely on Holocaust-related issues, so with evidence that the scourge of antisemitism is once again on the rise, we resolved to take a leading role in combatting it. IHRA experts determined that in order to begin to address the problem of antisemitism, there must be clarity about what antisemitism is.
The IHRA’s Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial worked to build international consensus around a non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism, which was subsequently adopted by the Plenary. By doing so, the IHRA set an example of responsible conduct for other international fora and provided an important tool with practical applicability for its Member Countries. This is just one illustration of how the IHRA has equipped policymakers to address this rise in hate and discrimination at their national level.
THE WORKING DEFINITION OF ANTISEMITISM:
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).
• 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.
INFORMATION ON ADOPTION AND ENDORSEMENT:
The following UN member states have adopted or endorsed the IHRA working definition of antisemitism. Beyond the countries listed below, a wide range of other political entities, including a large number of regional/state and local governments, have done so as well.
Albania (22 October 2020)
Argentina (4 June 2020)
Austria (25 April 2017)
Belgium (14 December 2018)
Bulgaria (18 October 2017)
Canada (27 June 2019)
Cyprus (18 December 2019)
Czech Republic (25 January 2019)
France (3 December 2019)
Germany (20 September 2017)
Greece (8 November 2019)
Guatemala (27 January 2021)
Hungary (18 February 2019)
Israel (22 January 2017)
Italy (17 January 2020)
Lithuania (24 January 2018)
Luxembourg (10 July 2019)
Moldova (18 January 2019)
Netherlands (27 November 2018)
North Macedonia (6 March 2018)
Romania (25 May 2017)
Serbia (26 February 2020)
Slovakia (28 November 2018)
Slovenia (20 December 2018)
Spain (22 July 2020)
Sweden (21 January 2020)
United Kingdom (12 December 2016)
United States (11 December 2019)
Uruguay (27 January 2020)
The following international organizations have expressed support for the working definition of antisemitism:
- Secretary General Antonio Guterres
- Special Rapporteur for freedom of religion or belief Ahmed Shaheed
Organization of American States
Council of Europe
- European Commission against Racism and Intolerance