IJV Canada rejects IHRA’s definition of antisemitism

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Independent Jewish Voices Canada’s protest against Israel

On June 13, 2019 Independent Jewish Voices Canada, a far-left pro Palestinian group, posted:

Have you signed our petition? Help us reject the legitimacy of any definition of antisemitism that sees criticism of Israel as inherently antisemitic. Rather, we recognize that, as a form of racism, antisemitism must be fought alongside other anti-racist struggles. As Jews, the safety and wellbeing of our communities Is intimately connected to the safety and well-being of other targeted groups. #noIHRA

The post was accompanied with text of the petition sponsored by Independent Jewish Voices Canada:

Fighting antisemitism is essential. But the IHRA definition is the wrong approach.


Antisemitism is a real problem and must be fought in all its forms. Yet the primary goal of those promoting the IHRA definition of antisemitism is to ban or criminalize criticism of Israel and of Zionism, and silence support for Palestinian rights. The IHRA definition thus represents a threat to the struggle for justice and human rights in Israel/Palestine. The real fight against antisemitism must be joined to the struggles against racism, xenophobia and hatred of all ethnic and religious groups the world over.

Learn more at www.noihra.ca


To: Members of Parliament

From: [Your Name]

Fighting antisemitism is important. But adopting the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism is not the way to do so.

There is no doubt that antisemitism is a growing threat.The recent murderous attacks on Jews in Pittsburgh and San Diego are proof that hatred of Jews is a growing problem worldwide.

We are committed to fighting this hateful and dangerous discourse in concert with our fight for a just peace in Israel/Palestine, and recognize the distinction between prejudice against Jews and legitimate criticism of unjust Israeli policies.

That is why we are alarmed at the recent push in Canada and abroad to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition on Antisemitism (IHRA-WDA). The definition is worded in such a way that it can easily be used to equate criticism of Israel with antisemitism, and as a result suppresses support for Palestinian rights. The working definition was never meant to be legally binding, and is a poor tool for determining whether actions or speech are antisemitic. Despite this, the IHRA-WDA has been embraced and promoted as a gauge of antisemitism by staunchly pro-Israel organizations such as the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, B’nai Brith Canada, and Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

Adoption of this definition would threaten advocacy for Palestinian human rights, silence legitimate criticism of Israel and obstruct the real fight against antisemitism: crucially, the IHRA-WDA neglects to identify antisemitism as a form of racism.

We must recognize that, as a form of racism, antisemitism is intimately tied to other forms of racism. The fight against antisemitism is inseparable from the struggles against racism, xenophobia and hatred of ethnic and religious groups.

We urge our governments and institutions to reject the IHRA-WDA and instead support initiatives to defeat white supremacy, antisemitism and all forms of racism, and uphold the equality and human rights of all people in Canada, in Israel-Palestine and around the world.

IHRA’s 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.