What is antisemitism? Legislators from around world to discuss definition

MK Wasserman Lande: "Those who delegitimize the only Jewish homeland are discriminating against the Jewish people by denying their right to self-determination.“

 Israeli flag is seen attached to "Shoes on the Danube Bank" memorial during the annual "March of the Living" to commemorate victims of the Holocaust (photo credit: REUTERS/BERNADETT SZABO)
Israeli flag is seen attached to "Shoes on the Danube Bank" memorial during the annual "March of the Living" to commemorate victims of the Holocaust
(photo credit: REUTERS/BERNADETT SZABO)

At an event marking Holocaust Remembrance Day, parliamentarians from the Israel Allies network will join together Thursday for an online conference on the adoption and implementation of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism.

The event is organized by the Israel Allies Foundation, the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM) and the Combat Antisemitism Movement, will be hosted by MEP Bert Jan Ruissen and Finnish MP Peter Ostman and attended by parliamentarians throughout Europe, the US and Africa. 

Minister of Diaspora Affairs Nachman Shai will open the program and encourage the parliamentarians to look towards the IHRA definition as a means to a greater goal. 

“Choosing to adopt IHRA is a clear and practical first step," Shai said. "It allows all of us to work together to combat antisemitism based on a shared language and understanding of the challenge itself. The EU’s adoption of IHRA set the groundwork for its new strategic plan to combat antisemitism and foster Jewish life in Europe.” 

Ruissen plans to discuss whether the EU implements the IHRA definition in its actions. 

  Memorial of bronze shoes in Budapest on the bank of the Danube, commemorating Hungarian Jews killed in the Holocaust (credit: MICHAEL STARR) Memorial of bronze shoes in Budapest on the bank of the Danube, commemorating Hungarian Jews killed in the Holocaust (credit: MICHAEL STARR)

“It is very good that the EU recognizes the IHRA working definition and focuses on a strategy to combat antisemitism in Europe and protect the Jewish minority in the EU," he said. "However, the EU should not at the same time subsidize textbooks that are antisemitic at Palestinian schools! The EU should practice what it preaches also outside the EU. Fighting antisemitism would also be strengthened if the EU would stop its current unbalanced negative attitude towards the State of Israel, the safe haven for Jews from around the world.” 

MK Ruth Wasserman Lande, a member of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, intends to highlight how the IHRA definition extends not only to the Jewish people but also to the Jewish state. 

“The IHRA working definition of antisemitism correctly qualifies the wholesale demonization of Israel as antisemitism," she said. "Those who delegitimize the only Jewish homeland are discriminating against the Jewish people by denying their right to self-determination.“ 

Other speakers at the event will include Co-Chair of the U.S Congressional Israel Allies Caucus Chris Smith (R-NJ), ECPM President Valeriu Ghiletchi, former U.S. Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism Elan Carr and Katharina von Schnurbein, who is the European leader responsible for the EU’s adoption of the IHRA definition and the first person to be appointed as the European Commission Coordinator on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life.

 “Faith-based diplomacy is the most important diplomatic tool that Israel has," Israel Allies Foundation president Josh Reinstein said. "We know we can count on the legislators in the Israel Allies network to implement tools like the IHRA definition to combat antisemitism and its new manifestation, anti-Zionism.”