Jewish Groups Hail EU Parliament Resolution Endorsing Working Definition Of Anti-Semitism As An ‘Historic Step‘

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Several Jewish groups praised the European Parliament for approving on Thursday with overwhelming support a resolution on combatting anti-Semitism which endorses the working definition of anti-Semitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). «The European Parliament must be applauded for taking this significant step toward fighting all forms of anti-Jewish hatred, including the variety that tries to hide its ugly face behind a false veneer of respectability – so-called legitimate criticism of Israel that in reality questions the very legitimacy of the Jewish state», – said Daniel Schwammenthal, Director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute.

«Those who falsely claim the working definition limits freedom of expression are demanding the freedom to deny the Jewish people the right granted to every other people, the right to self-determination–in other words they claim the freedom to engage in anti-Semitism. Parliament has told these people today loud and clearly that this house will not tolerate anti-Semitism, whether in the open or in disguise», – he added.

The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which all EU Member States welcomed in January this year, outlines how modern anti-Semitism manifests itself, for example, through the demonization of Israel, or by holding Jews collectively or individually responsible for Israel’s actions.

In May 2016, IHRA’s 31 Member States, of which 24 are EU members, unanimously adopted the definition by the EUMC, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency’s predecessor. In January 2017, all EU members of the OSCEwelcomed IHRA’s adoption of the definition and confirmed their support for the definition’s endorsement at the OSCE. Commissioner Vera Jourova politically endorsed the IHRA definition in January. The UK adopted the IHRA working definition in December 2016, followed by Austria and Romania. It is already commonly used by the British police, the training of Austrian andRomanian prosecutors, and NGOs tracking anti-Semitic incidents.

European lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the resolution on combatting anti-Semitism. It calls on EU Member States and the EU institutions and agencies to adopt and apply the working definition of anti-Semitism. Among the other key elements, the Resolution calls on EU Member States to help ensure the physical security of their Jewish citizens and Jewish institutions; to appoint national coordinators on combating anti-Semitism; to systematically and publicly condemn anti-Semitic statements, to ensure that teachers are properly trained to teach the Holocaust in diverse classrooms; and encourages Member States to review school textbooks to ensure that Jewish history and contemporary Jewish life are presented in a comprehensive and balanced way and that all forms of anti-Semitism are avoided.

The resolution has become necessary as within living memory of the Holocaust, the remnants of Europe’s Jewish communities have endured a steep rise in anti-Semitic terrorism, attacks and incidents. Since 2012 alone, at least 14 people have been killed in anti-Jewish violence in the EU.

Ronald S. Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), welcomed the resolution. «It is high time that a concerted and strong effort is made across Europe to stamp out bigotry and hatred of Jews. If the Jews are forced to leave Europe because of anti-Semitism, it would be sad for the Jews, but it would be a disaster for Europe», – he declared.

Lauder added: «Anti-Semitism is the oldest form of ethnic and religious hatred, and we need binding criteria for measuring it. This resolution must now be speedily implemented by all member states and by the EU institutions. It is critical that all countries apply the same criteria when it comes to dealing with hatred of Jews.»

The European Jewish Congress (EJC) said that «this is a monumental day for the fight against hate and the protection of the rights of European Jews».

«For too long, Jews were deemed unique, with hate defined by the perpetrators and not by the victims», – said EJC President Moshe Kantor.

«The only people who will be dismayed by this decision are those who wish to continue the culture of antisemitic impunity and who believe that Jews should not be afforded protection under the law».

The Israeli-Jewish Congress (IJC) strongly applauded in particular the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of Antisemitism.

IHRA’s definition exhaustively, and appropriately, outlines anti-Semitism as both a hatred against Jews, and its modern-day manifestation in the assault on Israel’s legitimacy, including against Zionism and applying a double standard to Israel that is not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

«This resolution is an historic step, as until now, there has not been even an EU-wide definition of Antisemitism. The IJC has long said that defining anti-Semitism is just the first step towards eradicating this oldest and most enduring form of hatred».

Fort the group, however «much more work though needs to be done, including a paradigm shift in how we approach fighting anti-Semitism».

«In light of the surging anti-Semitism across Europe, this action by the European Parliament is very welcome and long overdue, signaling Europe’s serious intentions on combating anti-Semitism and helping ensure that Jewish communities continue to live peacefully and thrive».

IJC urged EU Member States to implement the recommendations of the resoltuion «without delay».