The Knesset finally adopts the IHRA definition for antisemitism

Written by on June 23, 2022

The Knesset approved MK Zvi Hauser’s (New Hope) proposal that the Knesset adopt the IHRA definition for antisemitism (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance), by doing so, the Knesset joins more than a thousand governments, parliaments, bodies and organizations around the world that have already adopted the definition.

The proposal was passed Wednesday night by a majority of 33 supporters (from the coalition and the opposition) against five opponents including MKs of the Joint List party.

It was formally endorsed by the government of Israel in 2017 but never by the Knesset. “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews,” the definition states. “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.”

Along with the definition, 11 examples of antisemitism were published by IHRA, some of which have to do with Israel, including “applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” and “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination” by “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.” 

IHRA’s working definition fits the definition of the term antisemitism in modern times and states that anti-Israelism is also part of the phenomenon of antisemitism.

special debate in the Knesset marking Victory Day over Nazi Germany, May 10, 2022. (credit: NOAM MOSKOVITZ/KNESSET)

Hauser’s statements

The proposal’s sponsor, Hauser, told The Jerusalem Post in February he was surprised to find out that unlike parliaments around the world, the Knesset had not adopted the IHRA decision. He said the Knesset agreed unanimously Thursday night to deal with the matter.

Hauser said on Thursday that “After examining, researching and demanding, it emerged that the Knesset of Israel, the Israeli parliament, has not yet adopted IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism including all the behaviors and ideas contained in the definition, including the ‘application of double standards towards the State of Israel. Therefore, I worked to raise a resolution on the issue on the Knesset agenda.”

He added that “I’m proud and excited that the Knesset approved my proposal and thus joined over a thousand parliaments, organizations, local and federal governments, that have adopted this definition and adopted examples of modern antisemitism, including opposition to the right of self-determination of the Jewish people. This is an important step in the battle on combatting antisemitism.”

The IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism, adopted in 2016 at the Bucharest Plenary under the Romanian Presidency, has helped guide countless governments, organizations and individuals in their efforts to identify antisemitism. This practical tool has also been formally adopted or endorsed by these groups, both at the national and organizational levels. As of June 2021, the working definition has been accepted by the European Parliament and other national and international bodies and employed for internal use by a number of governmental and political institutions.

“I’m proud and excited that the Knesset approved my proposal and thus joined over a thousand parliaments, organizations, local and federal governments, that have adopted this definition and adopted examples of modern antisemitism.”

New Hope MK Zvi Hauser

The first country to adopt the definition was The United Kingdom (2016), followed by Israel (the Israeli government, but not the Knesset),  Austria, Scotland, Romania, Canada, Germany and Bulgaria all in 2017.

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