Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and MKs during a discussion and vote on the "Minimum Wage bill" at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem on June 8, 2022.

The Knesset plenum approved on Wednesday evening the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism

A majority of 33 Members of Knesset voted in favor of the motion and five voted against it. It was the last vote after a very long day.

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The non-legally binding definition was adopted unanimously by IHRA’s 31 member states in May 2016.

The definition states that anti-Semitism 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 IHRA states that anti-Semitic examples include denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor, comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and leveling accusations against Jewish citizens of various countries that they are more loyal to Israel than to their own countries.

Knesset Speaker MK Mickey Levy stated after the vote that the Knesset “has made history and joins more than 1,000 parliaments, governments, local councils and organizations around the world that have adopted the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism. This is another step in the struggle of the Knesset as the legislature of the Jewish state against anti-Semitism in all its ugly forms.”

“The time has come for anti-Semitic expressions disguised as criticism of the State of Israel to be defined as such. It is not possible for a position that expresses double standards against the State of Israel or the denial of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination to be a legitimate position in international discourse,” he said.

The Knesset’s vote will “encourage parliaments and government bodies around the world to adopt this definition of anti-Semitism as well, and thus help our Jewish brothers and sisters around the world who unfortunately experience anti-Semitism firsthand on a daily basis,” he said.

37 nations and 865 entities around the world have adopted the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism.

In 2021, 200 entities adopted or endorsed the definition worldwide, 23% of the total since the definition’s inception. So far in 2022, at least 20 entities have adopted the definition as well. The newest additions to this group in 2021 were Australia, Estonia, Guatemala, Poland, South Korea, and Switzerland, followed by the Philippines in 2022.

320 non-federal government entities, including regional, provincial, state, county, and municipal bodies have adopted the definition, with 39 doing so in 2021, and 13 so far in 2022. In Europe, this has included major national capitals, such as London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, and Vienna.

In 2020, the Global Imams Council (GIC) adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.
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