October 3, 2022
BELLEVUE, WA--Bellevue has become the first city in the Pacific Northwest to adopt and utilize an internationally recognized definition of antisemitism that has been adopted by more than 800 nations, states, municipalities and colleges to signal their commitment to fight anti-Jewish hatred.
A proclamation to be issued Monday evening by the Bellevue City Council to endorse the definition was spearheaded by American Jewish Committee, the leading global Jewish advocacy organization. AJC helped craft the original draft of the antisemitism definition from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
“A fundamental step in combating the alarming surge in antisemitic incidents is to be able to define what antisemitism is, both in overt acts and through unconscious bias,” said AJC Seattle Regional Director Regina Sassoon Friedland. “The IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism is a comprehensive resource that describes antisemitism in the many forms it manifests. Bellevue is a leader in Washington by taking this vital step against Jew-hatred. We look forward to other municipalities in the region adopting the IHRA definition and stand up to hate.”
The IHRA definition says: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
Friedland thanked Deputy Mayor Jared Nieuwenhuis for leading the effort in Bellevue to have the definition adopted by the city.
“As one of the most diverse cities in Washington, we need to state unambiguously that hate has no place in Bellevue,” Nieuwenhuis said. “We will use the IHRA definition as an essential tool to identify modern forms of antisemitism and enable the city to effectively respond if it occurs here.”
The latest State of Antisemitism in America report from AJC found 90% of American Jews surveyed believe antisemitism is a serious problem while nearly one in four said they had experienced or been the victims of antisemitism. In addition, 39% of American Jews surveyed said they had changed their behavior to avoid being identified as Jewish, such as self-censoring comments on social media or not wearing a yarmulke or Star of David in public.