February 2, 2021 — New York
American Jewish Committee (AJC) welcomed a U.S. State Department official’s statement confirming that President Biden “embraces and champions” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism.
“We must educate ourselves and our communities to recognize antisemitism in its many forms, so that we can call hate by its proper name and take effective action. That is why the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism, with its real-world examples, is such an invaluable tool,” said Kara McDonald, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
Addressing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Expert Meeting on Combating Antisemitism in the OSCE Region, McDonald noted, “As prior U.S. Administrations of both political stripes have done, the Biden Administration embraces and champions the working definition. We applaud the growing number of countries and international bodies that apply it. We urge all that haven’t done so to do likewise.” The U.S. has long recognized the IHRA working definition as a vital educational tool.
AJC CEO David Harris called McDonald’s remarks “a solid reaffirmation of American leadership in the global fight against antisemitism. The IHRA working definition is the gold standard.” AJC, the premier global Jewish advocacy organization, has spearheaded over many years a diplomatic advocacy campaign to encourage all 57 OSCE member states and other countries around the world to adopt and implement the working definition.
Harris saluted McDonald’s announcement that she is currently overseeing the work of the State Department Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism as President Biden considers nominating a successor to Elan Carr, who served as envoy in the Trump Administration.
The OSCE expert committee meeting is organized by the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde, in cooperation with the organization’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The ODIHR’s recent hate crime report revealed that 22 percent of all hate crimes in 2019 were antisemitic, even though Jews constitute less than one percent of the population in the OSCE region.
AJC staff experts addressing the OSCE gathering included Rabbi Andrew Baker, Director of International Jewish Affairs, who also serves as the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office’s personal representative on combating antisemitism, and Felice Gaer, Director of AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights.
The IHRA definition is based on the 2005 European Monitoring Centre (EUMC) Working Definition. It offers a clear and comprehensive description of antisemitism in its various forms, including hatred and discrimination against Jews, Holocaust denial, and, of particular note, antisemitism as it relates to Israel. AJC worked closely with the EUMC to develop the working definition, and has advocated for its adoption at the institutional, national, and popular levels.