The widespread increase in antisemitism around the world is closely linked to the demonization of Israel, including long-running campaigns falsely accusing the Jewish state of “war crimes,” “apartheid,” and “ethnic cleansing.” The groups leading these efforts, including some that use the facade of human rights, often draw an odious parallel between Israeli responses to terrorism and the behavior of the Nazis in the Holocaust. Many antisemitic attacks and acts of vandalism, particularly in Europe, are inspired by these noxious campaigns.
In an effort to counter this virus, the countries and governments that make up the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) adopted a “working definition of antisemitism” in May 2016. This document, like previous European and US State Department working definitions, lists a number of criteria generally associated with what is referred to as the “new antisemitism.” These include using double standards to single out Israel, “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor,” or comparing Israel to Nazi Germany.
In addition, the IHRA working definition notes the use of symbols “associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.”
Among a growing number of states, these criteria have been adopted and endorsed, including by the European Parliament in an advisory (non-binding) resolution.
But much of the self-styled human rights community has studiously ignored the IHRA framework.
Groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Paris- based FIDH (the International Federation of Human Rights) and dozens of others that frequently stray into antisemitic territory remain outside this process.
Given the power and influence of these groups, the challenge of expanding the radius of the IHRA process to include NGOs is imperative.