Knesset finally adopts IHRA definition of antisemitism

The IHRA’s working definition fits the contemporary definition of antisemitism, holding that hatred toward Israel is antisemitic.

 A general view shows a session at the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, for the preliminary reading of a bill to dissolve the parliament, in Jerusalem, June 22, 2022.  (photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)
A general view shows a session at the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, for the preliminary reading of a bill to dissolve the parliament, in Jerusalem, June 22, 2022.
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)

The Knesset adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism on Wednesday night, joining more than a thousand governments, parliaments, bodies and organizations around the world that have already adopted it.

The proposal was passed by a majority of 33 supporters from the coalition and the opposition against five opponents, which included MKs of the Joint List party.

It was formally endorsed by the government of Israel in 2017, but never by the Knesset.

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews,” the IHRA definition states. “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.”

Along with the definition, the IHRA published 11 examples of antisemitism. Some of these are relevant to Israel, including “applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation,” and “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination” by “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

 special debate in the Knesset marking Victory Day over Nazi Germany, May 10, 2022. (credit: NOAM MOSKOVITZ/KNESSET) special debate in the Knesset marking Victory Day over Nazi Germany, May 10, 2022. (credit: NOAM MOSKOVITZ/KNESSET)

Contemporary definition of antisemitism

“I am proud and excited that the Knesset approved my proposal and thus joined over a thousand parliaments, organizations, local and federal governments that have adopted this definition and adopted examples of modern antisemitism, including opposition to the right of self-determination of the Jewish people. This is an important step in the battle on combating antisemitism.”

MK Zvi Hauser (New Hope)

The IHRA’s working definition fits the contemporary definition of antisemitism, holding that hatred toward Israel is antisemitic.

New Hope MK Zvi Hauser, who proposed the Knesset vote, said in February he was surprised that the Knesset, unlike parliaments around the world, had not adopted the IHRA’s definition.

“I am proud and excited that the Knesset approved my proposal and thus joined over a thousand parliaments, organizations, local and federal governments that have adopted this definition and adopted examples of modern antisemitism, including opposition to the right of self-determination of the Jewish people,” he said on Thursday. “This is an important step in the battle on combating antisemitism.”

The IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism has helped guide countless governments, organizations and individuals in their efforts to identify antisemitism. The definition has also been formally adopted or endorsed by many groups, both at the national and organizational levels. As of last June, the working definition has been accepted by the European Parliament and other national and international bodies, and has been employed for internal use by a number of governmental and political institutions.

The first country to adopt the definition was the UK (2016), followed by Israel (the Israeli government), Austria, Scotland, Romania, Canada, Germany and Bulgaria in 2017.