September 4, 2018
AJC salutes the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights decision to employ the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Anti-Semitism when examining questions of anti-Semitism on college campuses under Title VI.
“In determining whether students face discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived Jewish ancestry, we rely where appropriate upon widely established definitions of anti-Semitism,” stated Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Ken Marcus. “The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition is widely used by governmental agencies, including the U.S. Department of State, and is used by OCR as well.” The Marcus statement reiterates the full IHRA definition including its examples.
While welcoming the decision to use the definition in matters relating to Title VI, AJC also noted that the Department of Education must always be mindful of the importance of free and open speech on college campuses.
AJC has long maintained that the Working Definition is an important educational tool in identifying anti-Semitism in all its various manifestations. AJC was involved in the original drafting of the definition 14 years ago and continues to urge European governments to adopt it. The definition was adopted by the 31-nation IHRA in 2016 and recommended for use by the European Parliament in 2017.
The Department of Education decision effectively carries out the recommendation of the bipartisan Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which is currently pending action in the U.S. House of Representatives. It also provides a clear and compelling example of the United States making use of the definition that it urges other countries to employ.