Ahead Of Vote, Jewish Groups Urge European Parliament To Adopt Antisemitism Definition

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As Europe and the US experience an uptick in antisemitic incidents targeting Jewish communities, Jewish groups call on the European Parliament to clearly define antisemitism

Jewish groups have called on members of the European Parliament to support the adoption of the international Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism when it’s put to vote on Thursday.

“We fundamentally believe that the absence of accepted definitions of antisemitism in the legislation of some member states and indeed, the European Union itself, acts as a major obstacle in addressing the real security concerns of our communities and thereby preventing the efficient use of resources by governments in their primary role to protect their citizens,” wrote representatives of Jewish communities in EU Member States, led by EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor.

The IHRA formulated the definition last May amid concerns of rising antisemitism, in an effort to clamp down on discriminatory or prejudicial behavior that might fall between the cracks due to unclear or differing definitions of antisemitism.

The IHRA definition adopted by the group’s 31 member countries reads: “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.”

The EJC letter notes that 24 European Union states are members of the IHRA and therefore signatories to the IHRA definition.

“We believe that the affirmation by the European Parliament and the support of all its political groupings of this clear, recognised and effective tool in fighting the scourge of Antisemitism will send an important message to those in our communities concerned for their security and their fundamental rights in Europe and be a facilitator for the important measures required both at the legislative and the practical security level for all Member States to tackle antisemitism,” the signatories wrote to the MEPs

The AJC Transatlantic Institute also released a call to the MEPs on Tuesday, denying claims by critics that the definition limits free speech.

“Those who falsely claim the working definition limits freedom of expression are basically demanding the freedom to demonize Israel and to hold Jews collectively responsible for Israel’s actions, real or imagined–in other words they claim the right to engage in antisemitism,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, Director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute.

“The European Parliament has a chance and duty this Thursday to clearly reject such anti-Jewish hate speech. This is a matter of urgency as within living memory of the Holocaust, the remnants of Europe’s Jewish communities have endured a steep rise in antisemitic terrorism, attacks and incidents,” Schwammenthal added.