IHRA agrees on new definition of Holocaust denial

“If you say that only two million Jews were killed that is Holocaust denial according to this definition.”

October 23, 2013 21:50
1 minute read.
Group photo of the Holocaust Educational Trust teachers at Yad Vashem in August, 2013.

UK teachers visit Israel on Holocaust Education training tri. (photo credit: Courtesy of Yad Vashem and the Holocaust Educatio)


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The Foreign Ministry on Wednesday praised the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, an association of 31 democratic countries dedicated to perpetuating the memory of the Nazi genocide, for promulgating a new working definition of Holocaust denial.

The working definition is not legally binding, but has significant moral authority due to the composition of the IHRA. It includes many of the world’s leading democracies as members and the United Nations among its official observers.

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Gideon Behar, the Foreign Ministry’s point man on anti- Semitism and one of two Israeli delegates to the body, told The Jerusalem Post the definition was important because it was the first such document detailing what is considered acceptable by Western democracies and ratified by an international body.

“It is important because finally [we can refer] to it and say, yes there is a definition of Holocaust denial,” he explained. “If you say that only two million Jews were killed that is Holocaust denial according to this definition.”

If the president of Iran were to speak about the Holocaust, he continued, Western nations could point to this document in their rebuttals.

According to the IHRA, distortion of the Holocaust is defined as:

• “Intentional efforts to excuse or minimize the impact of the Holocaust or its principal elements, including collaborators and allies of Nazi Germany”

• “Gross minimization of the murder of the victims of the Holocaust in contradiction to reliable sources”

• “Attempts to blame the Jews for causing their own genocide”

• “Statements that cast the Holocaust as a positive historical event” and

• “Attempts to blur the responsibility for the establishment of concentration and death camps devised and operated by Nazi Germany and putting blame on other nations or ethnic groups.”

“This is excellent, this is extremely important, because it focuses on Holocaust distortion which is something that has developed rapidly in the last few years and is posing a serious threat the Jewish narrative of the Holocaust, especially in Eastern Europe,” Dr. Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which contributed to the definition, told the Post.

However, Zuroff said that “doesn’t specifically identify the efforts to equate communism to Nazism as a form of Holocaust distortion,” an oversight that he believes is problematic.

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