Photo Credit: courtesy, Alex Bernat
Letter-sized posters Alex Bernat and his classmates put up during Israeli Apartheid Week at Harvard that were torn down or covered up. (2022)

A report tracking 2023 adoptions and endorsements of the IHRA working definition reveals that few US institutions of higher learning have adopted the IHRA working definition of antisemitism.

The report was released this week by the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) in partnership with the Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University.


Recent survey data shows nearly 73 percent of US Jewish college students have experienced or witnessed antisemitism since the start of the 2023-2024 school year.

But the CAM report shows that only Boston University’s student government adopted the IHRA working definition in 2023.

These figures help put into context the atmosphere on college campuses that led to high-profile incidents of antisemitism on the campuses of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, The George Washington University, Cooper Union College, and Cornell University, among others.

Seven international universities and colleges adopted the working definition in 2023, bringing the global total to 345, which includes nearly every university in the UK, whose administrations included it in their codes of conduct.

“American colleges need to be proactive in helping Jewish students feel safe and accepted on campus, when nearly three quarters of Jewish college students have experienced antisemitism since the beginning of the school year, we must take action,” said CAM CEO Sacha Roytman.

“The best path forward includes robust educational programs that raise awareness about antisemitism, including the incorporation of the IHRA working definition of antisemitism, so schools as well as local, state, and federal governments can properly identify, monitor, and act on antisemitic incidents.”

This is the third annual report CAM has released on the global adoption of the IHRA working definition of Antisemitism since the definition was first adopted in 2016.

Forty-five nations, including the US and most Western democracies, have adopted the IHRA working definition at the national level.

As usual, however, the United Nations completely abrogated its responsibility to protect the Jewish people, excluding the IHRA working definition in its draft plan for combating antisemitism in 2023. The draft plan also failed to address modern antisemitism at all and instead was focused on the Holocaust.

The UN’s reticence to stand up to antisemitism mirrors its outsized criticism of Israel.

Since October 7, CAM has tracked a 1,753 percent increase in far-left antisemitic incidents and a 268 percent increase of Islamist antisemitic incidents from the third to fourth quarters of 2023.

Almost all the incidents were tied to anti-Zionist forms of antisemitism and the conflation of worldwide Jewry with the State of Israel. Incidents included violent protests at the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting, protestors chanting for “jihad” at London protests, and numerous accounts of far-left protestors tearing down posters advocating for the return of innocent people, including babies, being held hostage by Hamas.

Additional positive movement in 2023 came from non-federal government entities, which accounted for about half of all adoptions, an indication of the success of the IHRA working definition at the local level.

When cities, counties, and other localities adopt the IHRA working definition, it can be utilized by local law enforcement to respond to antisemitism more effectively.

The State of Virginia completed a successful bipartisan effort to adopt the IHRA working definition in May 2023 to use as a tool to identify instances of antisemitism and train “first responders, educators, and other public servants” on how to respond.

Virginia is one of 34 US states that have so far adopted the IHRA working definition.

“The present wave of antisemitism, surging worldwide, calls for tools to confront it,” said Professor Dina Porat, founding head of the Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewish History at Tel Aviv University and member of the CAM Advisory Board.

“The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism offers a trustworthy, clear, and internationally-accepted such tool, the adoption of which is a statement of shared values among those struggling against evil.”

CAM is a global coalition including more than 800 partner organizations and four million people in the fight against antisemitism.

Share this article on WhatsApp:

Previous articleRampant Antisemitism: Follow the Money
Next articleA Soldier’s Mother: A Voice from Israel from a Soldier’s Mother Still
Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.