The Foreign Ministry called on the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency to return a
working definition of “anti-Semitism” to its website, after removing it last
The agency dropped the definition and is now unable to define the
term, the agency informed JTA on Tuesday.
“We are not aware of any
official definition [of anti-Semitism],” spokeswoman Blanca Tapia was quoted as
saying by JTA.
In its 2012 “Who we are” booklet, the agency listed
“Define areas of work” among its tasks, but Tapia told the wire service that the
agency “has no mandate to develop its own definitions.”
In 2008, the
agency published a document that contains definitions for homophobia and
Tapia said, however, that the agency had defined neither and
used “international standards” that “contain definitions, terms and
The working definition was adopted by the European Monitoring
Center on Racism and Xenophobia – the EU entity subsequently replaced by the
FRA. It had been adopted by several countries, according to Prof.
Porat, who heads the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry
at Tel Aviv University and is chief historian at Yad Vashem.
removed definition “very good,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson told
The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that after learning that it had been removed from
the website, the Israeli embassy in Vienna initiated contact with the FRA in
order to request its return.
“It’s not acceptable,” Hirschson said. “Even
if it is a [nonbinding] recommendation, it does set a standard and people were
paying attention to... we have said to them that we would like very much for
them to return this.”
Several Jewish organizations have also critiqued
the FRA over the definition’s removal, stating that they believed it to have
created a baseline for the study of anti-Semitism whose absence would harm
efforts to combat rising levels of anti-Jewish sentiment on the
A report issued by the agency last month indicated that nearly
a third of respondents to a survey on anti-Semitism in Europe said they
“seriously considered emigrating” because of perceived
“The absence of an accurate definition of anti-Semitism,
which includes the vilification of Israel and falsely comparing Israel to the
Nazis, will only encourage our enemies all over the world to intensify their
efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state,” Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Simon
Wiesenthal Center’s Jerusalem director, told the Post.
Robert Singer, the CEO of the World Jewish Congress, without clearly defined
parameters on what constitutes anti-Semitism “it will be difficult to combat
this growing phenomenon in Europe. The shocking results of the survey about
anti-Semitism in Europe, released last month by FRA, show that the EU needs
urgently to address this matter.”
The decision to remove the definition
is “inexplicable in light of [the FRA’s] own report, which only one month
earlier noted record high levels of anti-Semitism across Europe,” the Israeli
Jewish Congress stated.
“The Israeli-Jewish Congress will continue to
work with our partners in the European Jewish community, the Knesset and
European Parliamentarians to push for an urgent, unequivocal and legally binding
definition of anti-Semitism in Europe,” a spokesman said.
The lack of a
common definition, said European Jewish Congress president Dr. Moshe Kantor,
sends a “troubling message to those who were against the definition that they,
the haters, are able to define the scope of their hate.”
The FRA believes
that the JTA misrepresented Tapia’s statements and selective quoted answers sent
to the wire service in an email, the organization’s Katya Andrusz told the
Asserting that the FRA’s critics have misunderstood the
organization’s move due to the JTA report, Ioannis N. Dimitrakopoulos, the Head
of the FRA’s Equality and Citizens’ Rights Department, told the Post that the
definition was “basically a guide to collectors of primary data.”
data gatherers, he said, are police, NGOs, local governments and Jewish
organizations, each of which has a different definition of
“We don’t collect incidents and we don’t receive
So what we do is we apply whatever definition is applied by
the primary data collectors.
So we get and put in our publication[s]… the
numbers from CRIF [Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France], for
instance, the Jewish organization in France or from the Community Security Trust
in the UK. We follow definitions, which differ,” he said.
The fact that
many considered the FRA definition to be binding was precisely “what was wrong”
with it, he said.
“We don’t have a mandate to develop [and] impose, in
any way, definitions. We cannot provide a measure based on which people will
assess how one Jewish organization records incidents in one country versus a
Jewish organization in another country versus a police authority in a third
country versus a civil society organization in a fourth country.”
Cukierman, president of CRIF, agreed with Dimitrakopoulos.
survey allowed Jews as victims to define anti-Semitism, not governments or
anyone else. To continue bleating about the definition is not relevant,” he
wrote the Post in an email. “The EU never adopted the definition nor did its
authors ask them to. It was written to guide law enforcement and NGOs in
response to concerns that some couldn’t differentiate incidents.”
International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians held its first meeting with US
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) at the helm this week, where it heard a briefing from US
State Department Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Ira
Forman told the ICJP that anti- Semitism has become “dramatically
worse in the last decade” around the world and that the US is specifically
watching France, Hungary and Venezuela closely and finds it “critical” to stop
European assaults on religious freedom, such as attempts to ban male ritual
The ICJP Steering Committee, which included lawmakers from
Israel, Hungary, Ukraine, Belgium, France, Costa Rica, Canada and the US met in
New York and Washington DC, where they released a resolution calling on the EU
Fundamental Rights Agency “to follow up on the disturbing findings [of the
‘Discrimination and Hate Crime Against Jews in EU Member States’ report] by
publishing and disseminating information about EU and national laws and efforts
which are supposed to protect the Jewish people and other minorities from
JTA and Henry Rome contributed to this report.