Who Opposes the IHRA Definition

Who Opposes the IHRA Definition

The IHRA definition of antisemitism, with its attendant examples, has been critiqued and rejected by a range of legal experts, academics, and civil society groups citing the definition’s flaws: conflating criticism of Israel with antisemitism, and wielding it to suppress advocacy for Palestinian human rights.

This includes:

Sir Stephen Sedley, Retired Court of Appeal Judge

The IHRA definition of antisemitism “fails the first test of any definition: it is indefinite”

Hugh Tomlinson QC

“‘A certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred’ invites a string of questions. Is antisemitism solely a matter of perception? What about discriminatory practices and policies? What about perceptions of Jews that are expressed otherwise than as hatred?”

80+ BAME and Migrant Groups in Britain

We are deeply worried about current attempts to silence a public discussion of what happened in Palestine and to the Palestinians in 1948, when the majority of its people were forcibly expelled. These facts are well established and accessible, are part of the British historical record, as well as the direct experience of the Palestinian people themselves. The Palestinian community in the UK has raised the disturbing absence of key information about these past and current injustices, and highlighted the racism it exposes then and now.  Public discussion of these facts, and a description of these injustices, would be prohibited under the IHRA’s guidelines, and therefore withholds vital knowledge from the public.

Geoffrey Robertson QC

The definition is “imprecise, confusing and open to misinterpretation and even manipulation.” The “definition is not fit for purpose, or any purpose that relies upon it to identify antisemitism accurately.”

Jewish Voice for Peace

“The controversial IHRA definition poses a direct censorship threat to Palestinians and Palestinian rights advocates. It can easily be used as a censorship tool that falsely conflates attempts to hold the Israeli government accountable with antisemitism.”

Palestinian Civil Society

“The discredited IHRA guidelines deliberately conflate hostility to or prejudice or discrimination against Jews on the one hand with legitimate critiques of Israel’s policies and system of injustice on the other.”

40+ Jewish Social Justice Groups

The definition “is worded in such a way as to be easily adopted or considered by western governments to intentionally equate legitimate criticisms of Israel and advocacy for Palestinian rights with antisemitism, as a means to suppress the former.”

Rabbi Alissa Wise

“The Israeli government and its rightwing allies are using this moment to double down on their campaign to equate all forms of anti-Zionism – the moral, political or religiously based opposition to an ethnic Jewish nation-state in historic Palestine – with antisemitism. This is not a sincere attempt to end anti-Jewish bigotry and violence. It is a breathtakingly cynical gambit to limit our ability to hold Israel accountable for its ongoing human rights abuses against Palestinians.”

122 Palestinian and Arab Academics, Journalists and Intellectuals

“The fight against antisemitism must be approached in a principled manner, lest it defeat its purpose. Through “examples” that it provides, the IHRA definition conflates Judaism with Zionism in assuming that all Jews are Zionists, and that the state of Israel in its current reality embodies the self-determination of all Jews. We profoundly disagree with this.”

Judith Butler, Jewish American Philosopher

 “If the charge of antisemitism becomes a tactic to suppress open criticism and debate on the State of Israel—its illegal annexations of Palestinian land, its ongoing practice of dispossessing Palestinians from their homes and lands, the violent suppressions of Palestinian freedom—then the charge will turn out to be a mere instrument exploited for the purposes of keeping reactionary forces in power. The historical reality of antisemitism in our times, including the rise of Neo-Nazis here and abroad, will be diminished or denied, and the actual struggle against all racisms will be robbed of the language it needs to show that the fight against antisemitism and for social justice in Palestine are linked struggles for all of us who demand a more just world.”

200+ scholars of Jewish studies, Holocaust history, and Middle East studies signing the JDA

“The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism responds to “the IHRA Definition,” the document that was adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in 2016. Because the IHRA Definition is unclear in key respects and widely open to different interpretations, it has caused confusion and generated controversy, hence weakening the fight against antisemitism.”