American Jewish Committee, the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people, today issued this statement in response to a letter by Human Rights Watch and other organizations asking the U.N. to reject the widely recognized International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism.

Efforts to counter antisemitism are more necessary than ever. The examples of antisemitism contained in the IHRA Working Definition mirror the recent surge in antisemitic attacks across the globe. The IHRA definition has immense value as an educational tool that offers greater awareness of the multiple forms antisemitism can take. It empowers the victims and society at large to identify otherwise undetected forms of antisemitism. 

Many governmental bodies have recognized its value. It has been adopted by more than 30 nations, multilateral organizations such as the European Union and the Organization of American States, 29 U.S. states, numerous local governments, and countless businesses, universities, and organizations. The definition is seen as an indispensable tool in the fight against the insidious menace that is antisemitism.

It offers succinct explanations and practical examples that can help a police officer on the street or a graduate student in the classroom recognize antisemitism. These include conspiracy theories, Holocaust denial, and the demonization of Israel.

The IHRA Working Definition affirms that criticism of Israel is not antisemitism. However, it offers examples where that line may be crossed, such as denying the Jewish people’s right to self-determination. Numerous countries that have delivered stinging criticism of the policies of the Jewish state have embraced the definition as a useful tool. The definition on its own is not legally binding and does nothing to prohibit any speech, even the most hateful.

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