The Combat Anti-Semitism Movement today welcomed the decision by the Academy of Sciences of Albania to endorse the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism. The Academy is Albania’s most important scientific institution.
The definition by IHRA, an inter-governmental organization including 34 member countries, is an internationally agreed classification of anti-Semitism. Not only is it a clear, succinct statement, but also an effective tool with which to measure and counter anti-Semitism.
The HRA working definition of anti-Semitism includes the following items, which have encountered resistance everywhere on the left, from the UK Labour party to the California higher education system:
- 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.
The Academy of Sciences confirmed the decision in a letter addressed to Robert Singer, Senior Advisor to the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement and Chairman of the Center for Jewish Impact, and Noah Gal Gendler, Israel’s Ambassador to Albania. In the letter, the Academy said it “reconfirms its attitude on the historical crimes committed against Jews during the Shoah (Holocaust)” and stated that “the inhumane acts they suffered during World War II, due to racism are not phenomena belonging to history, but it appears in a form of a danger reviving collective crimes and racism, ethnic, religious and cultural hatred.”
The Academy said that as an institution that has historically promoted the study of the Holocaust and its lessons, adopting the IHRA working definition is “a completely natural step and in coherence with its own past, as well as its legal and civil mission.” The Academy of Science will issue its own statement on the adoption of the IHRA working definition on January 26.
The Academy’s decision follows October’s landmark unanimous vote by the Albanian parliament to adopt the IHRA working definition, making Albania – well-known for its interfaith coexistence – the first Muslim-majority country to do so.
Robert Singer, Senior Advisor to the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement said, “I am thrilled to have worked alongside Albania’s Academy of Sciences in making this important decision. Sadly, anti-Semitism is increasing across the world, including in the academic sphere. As such, the IHRA definition has never been more important, by spelling out exactly what Jew-hatred looks like. The Academy’s decision reaffirms Albania’s determined opposition to anti-Semitism as a society. I hope that it serves as an example for other esteemed academic institutions to follow suit across the world.”
Valentina Leskaj, former Albanian government minister and member of the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement’s Advisory Board said, “Albania has a proud history of tolerance, including the protection of the country’s Jewish community during World War Two. The Academy’s decision to adopt the IHRA definition is another important expression of our country’s enduring values. The Academy’s important endorsement strengthens the clear message that anti-Semitism, intolerance, and hatred have no place in our society.”