Why Oppose the IHRA Definition

Why Oppose the IHRA Definition

  1. The IHRA 39-word definition of antisemitism is too vague and poorly worded to effectively help prevent and monitor acts of antisemitism.

The IHRA definition of antisemitism is too vague and poorly worded to effectively dismantle antisemitism. In its 39 word definition, it describes antisemitism as a “certain perception of Jews”, which is insufficient for those seeking genuine understanding of hatred of Jews as Jews.

Given the prevalence of false charges of antisemitism against those challenging the Israeli government, it is all the more essential that any definition of antisemitism we use is robust and specific. 

2. The accompanying examples conflate criticism of Israel with antisemitism.

The IHRA definition of antisemitism relies on conflating Judaism and Jewish people with the State of Israel.  We know that antisemitism is part of the machinery of division and fear used to keep us isolated and alone – the same machinery that’s used to target discriminated and marginalised groups, such as people of colour, people who are Muslim, and people who are Palestinian. Falsely equating all Jewish people with the state or government of Israel actually fuels antisemitism and endangers Jewish people by isolating them – and reduces Jewish people’s varied political beliefs into stereotypes.

3. It undermines our ability to hold Israel to account

The definition undermines our ability to hold Israel accountable for harming Palestinians.

Advocates of the IHRA definition of antisemitism are hoping it can be deployed to successfully shut down grassroots efforts to hold the Israeli government accountable for violating international law. Since the IHRA adopted the definition, it has been wielded in attempts to shut down educational events and cancel university classes, by penalising support for the non-violent Palestinian call for boycott or by seeking to turn critique of Israel into a hate crime.