The IHRA’s working definition enables uniform and systematic identification and comparability of the phenomenon of antisemitism. It has been adopted by over 30 countries to date.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance IHRA was founded in 1998 to ensure a uniform approach when it comes to remembrance, education and research in connection with the Holocaust. Until 2013 it was called Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research ITF. As per 2021, the IHRA counts 35 member states, one partner state and eight states with observer status.
Switzerland among those who have adopted the IHRA antisemitism definition
One of the prime tasks of the IHRA was to formulate a definition of antisemitism that can be used by legal and other public authorities, NGOs, private organisations and individuals. After several years of debates and in cooperation with leading antisemitism and Holocaust scholars, a working definition was decided on in 2016. In 2017, the European Parliament called on the EU member states to adopt this definition. Since then, it has been officially adopted and put to use by over 30 states as well as by numerous municipalities and organisations. In 2021, the Swiss Federal Council also acknowledged the value and practical relevance of the IHRA definition and appealed to all public and non-public parties concerned to study this working definition and the associated debates.
Definition and examples of use
The IHRA definition consists of two parts. The first part contains the definition:
«Antisemitism is 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 second part lists a number of examples. They serve as illustrations and help with the application of the definition in practice. Widespread acceptance and use of this antisemitism definition ensure that antisemitic incidents can be registered and compared in a uniform and systematic way.
The SIG and other NGOs work with the IHRA definition
The SIG, too, applies the IHRA definition, for example when compiling its antisemitism report or when assessing possible antisemitic incidents. This enables a majority of cases to be unambiguously classified. The IHRA definition is also used by the GRA Foundation against Racism and Antisemitism, which cooperates with the SIG in drafting the antisemitism report for the German, Italian or Rhaeto-Romanic speaking parts of Switzerland, and the Coordination intercommunautaire contre l’antisémitisme et la diffamation CICAD, which publishes the antisemitism report for the French-speaking part of the country.
Examples illustrating the IHRA working definition:
This list in not exhaustive.
- Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
- Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
- Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
- Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
- Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
- Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
- 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.
- Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
- Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
- Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
- Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.