UNITED! 51 groups agree on 1 thing: A definition of anti-Semitism


A coalition of 51 Jewish and pro-Israel organizations has adopted the working definition of anti-Semitism crafted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

The organizations are members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which announced the adoption on Tuesday, the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Two other members of the umbrella organization, Americans for Peace Now and the Workers Circle, did not adopt the definition.

The IHRA definition says: “Antisemitism 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 definition received bipartisan support in Congress and is consistent with and builds upon definitions endorsed by the last three presidential administrations.

“At a time of increased anti-Semitism at home and abroad, as well as great divisiveness in America, American Jewry is sending a clear message that we are united in our determination to combat anti-Semitism in all of its manifestations,” said the Conference of Presidents in a statement.

“The IHRA definition, which is anchored in the principles of human and civil rights, as well as anti-discrimination principles and policy, serves as an educational tool to assist local, state, and national authorities that are responsible for identifying, combating, and monitoring anti-Semitism and hate speech,” it continued. “It also helps to educate the public about the multi-dimensional and evolving nature of anti-Semitism today.”

The adoption came as a debate emerged in the Jewish and pro-Israel community over whether the IHRA definition should be adopted into law.

Progressive Israel Network, a group of left-wing Jewish and Israeli groups, issued a joint statement this month in opposition to adopting the definition, claiming that doing so would silence criticism of Israel.

The Network includes Ameinu, Americans for Peace Now, Habonim Dror North America, Hashomer Hatzair World Movement, Jewish Labor Committee, J Street, New Israel Fund, Partners for Progressive Israel, Reconstructing Judaism, and T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.

The Conference of Presidents pushed back against the Progressive Israel Network and expressed support for the IHRA definition.

It penned a letter to then-President-elect Joe Biden stating that the definition “is now the most comprehensive and authoritative definition of anti-Semitism” and therefore “all federal departments and agencies” should consider adopting it. Agencies charged with carrying out Title VI are already required to do so.

Over the last several years, the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism has been adopted by countries and organizations across the world as the standard to help combat rising anti-Semitism.

The IHRA has cited the following examples to illustrate its definition.

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 Israel 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.

The Conference of Presidents member organizations that adopted the IHRA definition are: Alpha Epsilon Pi, Ameinu, American Friends of Likud, America-Israel Friendship League, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, American Sephardi Federation, American Zionist Movement, AMIT, Anti-Defamation League, ARZA, B’nai B’rith International, Bnai Zion, CAMERA, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Emunah of America, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, Greater Miami Jewish Federation, Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of America, HIAS, Hillel International, Israel Bonds/Development Corporation for Israel, JCC Association of North America, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Jewish Federations of North America, Jewish Institute for National Security of America, Jewish Labor Committee, Jewish National Fund, Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, Jewish Women International, Mercaz USA, Zionist Organization of the Conservative Movement, NA’AMAT USA, NCSEJ: National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry, National Council of Jewish Women, National Council of Young Israel, ORT America, Rabbinical Assembly, Rabbinical Council of America, Religious Zionists of America, UJA-Federation of New York, Union for Reform Judaism, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, WIZO, Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, Women of Reform Judaism, World ORT USA, World Zionist Executive USA, and Zionist Organization of America.