10 US states adopt IHRA definition of antisemitism on Holocaust Remembrance Day

"The use of this definition of antisemitism will increase awareness and understanding of...anti-Jewish discrimination in certain circumscribed areas."

 DEMONSTRATORS RALLY in solidarity with Israel and against antisemitism, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, in May. (photo credit: Christian Mang/Reuters)
DEMONSTRATORS RALLY in solidarity with Israel and against antisemitism, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, in May.
(photo credit: Christian Mang/Reuters)

WASHINGTON – Ten US states announced on Wednesday that they are adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism. The announcement came as the world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming all issued proclamations on Wednesday. The Commonwealth of Virginia issued an executive order.

The IHRA defines antisemitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

“The use of this definition of antisemitism, although it is not to be taken as an exhaustive definition, will increase awareness and understanding of the parameters of contemporary anti-Jewish discrimination in certain circumscribed areas,” some of the proclamations read.

“This wave of executive statements and actions shows that our leaders are taking seriously the need to acknowledge the IHRA definition,” said Pastor John Hagee, founder and chairman of Christians United For Israel (CUFI). “One cannot defeat that which they are unwilling to define, and from Washington to the state capitals, the IHRA definition is being acknowledged and appropriately utilized. In the wake of increasing acts of antisemitism, staying silent is not an option, and we are grateful to governors across the country who are standing up and speaking out on this vital issue. Over the next year, we will work with our partners to advance similar measures and do everything in our power to stem the rising tide of antisemitism that is sweeping across our country.”

 Whether in support or increasingly through criticism, Israel is what connects most American Jews to their Judaism.  (credit: REUTERS) Whether in support or increasingly through criticism, Israel is what connects most American Jews to their Judaism. (credit: REUTERS)

William Daroff, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, applauded “these Democratic and Republican governors for recognizing the importance of utilizing the IHRA working definition of antisemitism as an essential tool to determine contemporary manifestations of antisemitism, as well as to educate and raise awareness of antisemitism. We encourage the use of the IHRA definition in educational and training programs on issues relating to discrimination and anti-bias compliance. In order to effectively combat antisemitism, it is imperative to adopt the consensus definition of antisemitism – the IHRA definition – following the lead of over 30 countries and over 1,000 organizations and universities across the world.”

Adam Teitelbaum, executive director of the Jewish Federations of North America’s Israel Action Network, said that promoting the IHRA definition of antisemitism “is a top public policy priority for Jewish Federations. The alarming rise of antisemitism requires multiple tools to ensure Jews feel safe and secure and having a unified definition helps make that possible. It is especially meaningful to see so many states take action on the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, a day when the world is memorializing the horrors of the Holocaust.”