Manitoba, Canada adopts IHRA definition of antisemitism

IHRA's is the consensus definition of antisemitism that best reflects lived experience of Jews today.

Canada - Manitoba Provincial Parliament Building in Winnipeg illuminated in blue for Israel's 73rd Independence Day April 15, 2021. (photo credit: FOREIGN MINISTRY)
Canada - Manitoba Provincial Parliament Building in Winnipeg illuminated in blue for Israel's 73rd Independence Day April 15, 2021.
(photo credit: FOREIGN MINISTRY)

Manitoba became the sixth Canadian province to adopt or commit to using the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism on Thursday.

The IHRA working definition of antisemitism provides policymakers, law enforcement, and community leaders a tool to identify, understand, and combat contemporary forms of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere. IHRA is the consensus definition of antisemitism that best reflects lived experience of Jews today. Developed by IHRA’s Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial, it is grounded in the research of the world’s foremost experts on antisemitism and the Holocaust and is supported by the UN, EU, and 30 countries including the US and Canada. It is also being used by Canadian provinces such as Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, Alberta and New Brunswick.

“Premier Heather Stefanson’s adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism is a clear affirmation of the Manitoba government’s recognition of the surge in hate targeting Jews and the need to counter this rise,” said Shimon Koffler Fogel, president and CEO, Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs in Canada. “Defining antisemitism is the first step in recognizing its manifestations, which is key to standing against it. Today, Manitoba joins governments across the country to say that enough is enough. Canadians cannot stand by and allow Jew hatred to spread unchecked. This is especially important because history has repeatedly demonstrated that what begins with the Jews never ends with the Jews. This is a victory for all who stand against hate – no matter what group is the immediate target.”

 The Bosnia & Herzegovina parliament approving the IHRA definition of antisemitism (credit: PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY OF BIH) The Bosnia & Herzegovina parliament approving the IHRA definition of antisemitism (credit: PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY OF BIH)

"As antisemitic incidents in Canada continue to rise, the need to counter them is urgent"

"As antisemitic incidents in Canada continue to rise, the need to counter them is urgent," a press release on behalf of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg stated. Statistics Canada released police-reported hate crime data for 2021 in August, revealing, once again, that hate crimes targeting the Black and Jewish populations remained the most common reported by police. Overall, hate crimes targeting religious groups increased 67% from 2020, breaking an encouraging three-year downturn. Incidents targeting the Jewish community grew dramatically by 47 percent since 2020, and cumulatively 59% over the last two years. 

According to the press release, Manitoba’s organized community representatives, including the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg and CIJA, have consistently advocated for the endorsement of the IHRA definition. "The adoption of IHRA signals that the Government of Manitoba recognizes the struggle faced by the Jewish community and that they stand in solidarity in the fight against Jew-hatred and all forms of hate," the Jewish Federation stated.

“Today, Premier Stefanson and the Government of Manitoba sent a strong message that antisemitism has no place in society,” said Gustavo Zentner, President of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg. “To combat antisemitism effectively, it must first be defined. The IHRA definition will help Manitobans identify and combat antisemitism in all its forms. With antisemitic hate crimes on the rise across the country, fighting antisemitism is a priority – not just for the Jewish community, but for all Manitobans and for all Canadians.”

“Our government is proud to stand united with the Jewish community here in Manitoba and around the world,” said the Honourable Heather Stefanson, Premier of Manitoba. “Antisemitism has no place in our communities, and today is an important step forward in our collective commitment to ensure we build an inclusive and safe society, and a future full of hope and opportunity for our future generations.”

The Federation concluded that "the [Jewish] community is encouraged that, through IHRA, Jewish-lived experience will now be reflected in the official understanding of antisemitism."