On Wednesday, September 16, the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) hosted a live event on the Jerusalem Post website on modern antisemitism. The broadcast focused on eleven actual events that met the official definition of antisemitism, as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) that has been accepted by 34 countries.
Representatives of Jewish communities around the world recounted antisemitic incidents that they had experienced and discussed the impact that it had on their lives. Jonathan Morales, an off-duty US Customs and Border Patrol agent, was attending synagogue services at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, California, in April 2019, when a gunman entered the synagogue, killing one worshipper and wounding three others. Morales recounted the shooting and his actions in firing at the shooter. “People are still shaken, hurt, and upset over the loss of life and the injuries sustained,” he said. A Chicago woman who worked at the Department of Health recalled allegations in 1989 that Jewish doctors were injecting black babies with HIV and her disappointment at seeing a recent resurfacing of antisemitic statements recently in the wake of comments made by Louis Farrakhan. A Holocaust survivor in New Jersey who spoke to a student group about the Holocaust reported that neo-Nazis responding to his remarks claimed that the Holocaust was a hoax.
The event featured five of the world’s foremost authorities on the IHRA definition, including Ambassador Michaela Küchler (Chair of IHRA), Elan S. Carr, (US Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism), Dr. Felix Klein, (Federal Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight Against Antisemitism), Lord Eric Pickles, (the United Kingdom Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues) and Ahmed Shaheed, (UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief).
Elan Carr reported that in 2019, there was a record number of antisemitic incidents in the United States and that the overall number is rising globally. Carr noted the importance of having a formal definition of antisemitism, saying that “You have to understand and define the enemy, and an objective definition allows us to be on the same page. All of us have a responsibility to better our world. We have to stand up to it and call it out.” Carr added that while more countries have adopted the official IHRA definition, it is essential that it be adopted by civil society, including Internet organizations, and colleges and universities.
Ambassador Michaela Küchler, Chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, warned, “Antisemitism has arrived in the mainstream of our societies… It affects us all, and it requires each and every single one of us to combat it.”
Dr. Felix Klein, Federal Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight Against Antisemitism said that “the IHRA definition is an essential tool in the fight” against online antisemitism. He outlined the legislation in Germany, which targets online hate, explaining, “The IHRA definition helps in the diagnosis, it helps police forces to identify antisemitism… and it helps those who work for these platforms.”
Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, noted that “Antisemitism is increasingly exponentially as we speak,” explaining, “What is important is to have clear guidance on what we mean by antisemitism. The eleven examples are very helpful in that regard.”
Lord Eric Pickles, United Kingdom Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues, said it was “a matter of pride” that the UK was the first country to adopt the IHRA definition. He explained, “We know from surveys that maybe 30 percent of the [UK] population… believe some of the tropes about Jews controlling the press or about Jews having a lot of money.” He added, “We really need to bear down on this antisemitism. That is why the IHRA definition is so important because it deals with the modern nature of antisemitism.”
Frankfurt Mayor Uwe Becker, a CAM Advisory Board member, also joined the event and announced that in early November, CAM will host an international mayor’s conference on antisemitism, providing tools and methods for municipal leaders to confront antisemitism and hate speech.