Anti-Semitism

29 Million ReasonsSpeech delivered by Yehuda Bauer during the dinner for the Fifth World Holocaust Forum, 22 Jan 2020

Anti-Semitism – hatred of the Jews – has a sordid history going back more than 2000 years, the most extreme case being the Holocaust – the Nazi genocide perpetrated during World War II.  The phenomenon has seen an alarming resurgence in the 2010s leading to legal and policy initiatives to combat it.  These efforts are increasingly addressed in public forums and the media.  What follows is focused on those legal and policy issues, and on the connection between anti-Semitism and anti-Israel activities.  

The Connection Between Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism

The Connection Between BDS and Anti-Semitism

  • “Behind the Mask – The Anti-Semitic Nature of BDS Exposed, September 2019.  A report by the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy
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  • “Combatting Antisemitism to Eliminate Discrimination and Intolerance Based on Religion or Belief,” 20 Sep 2019.  A report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed.  Paragraph 18 of the report addresses the connection between the BDS movement and anti-semitism.
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International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)

Stockholm Declaration
Working Definition of Anti-Semitism
Fact Sheet
EU Handbook for Practical Use of the Definition

The Working Definition includes the following references to Israel:

    • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
    • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
    • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
    • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
    • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
    • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
    • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

Countries, Provinces, Cities, etc., which have adopted or endorsed as policy the Working Definition of the IHRA  (Chronological List)

On Small Screens Scroll Right
United Kingdom (12 Dec 2016)France (3 Dec 2019)
Israel (22 Jan 2017)United States (11 Dec 2019)
Austria (25 Apr 2017)Cyprus (18 Dec 2019)
Romania (25 May 2017)Italy (17 Jan 2020)
City of London (8 Feb 2017)Uruguay (27 Jan 2020)
Scotland (13 Jun 2017)Serbia (26 Feb 2020)
Welsh Government (23 Jun 2017)Argentina (4 Jun 2020)
Germany (20 Sep 2017)Balearic Islands (11 Jun 2020)
Bulgaria (18 Oct 2017)Spain (22 Jul 2020
Lithuania (24 Jan 2018)Albania (22 Oct 2020)
Sweden (27 Jan 2018)Ontario (26 Oct 2020)
North Macedonia (6 Mar 2018)Guatemala (27 Jan 2021)
Netherlands (27 Nov 2018)Estonia ( 29 Apr 2021)
Slovakia (28 Nov 2018)Portugal (28 Jul 2021)
Belgium (14 Dec 2018)South Korea (4 Aug 2021)
Slovenia (20 Dec 2018)Poland (13 Oct 2021)
Republic of Moldova (18 Jan 2019)Australia (13 Oct 2021)
Czech Republic (25 Jan 2019)Finland (17 Feb 2022)
Hungary (18 Feb 2019)Phillipines (18 Feb 2022)
Canada ( 27 June 2019)Colombia (2 June 2022)
Luxembourg (10 Jul 2019)Bosnia (22 July 2022)
Jersey (18 Sep 2019)Croatia (20 Jan 2023)
Greece (8 Nov 2019)

European Union

Organization of American States  – General-Secretariat

Council of Europe – European Commission against Racism and Intolerance

United States Department of State, in June 2010, adopted as policy a statement similar to the IHRA working definition.  This was updated in early August 2019, in the Department’s on-line definition of anti-semitism to include as an example, “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis”.  Executive Order 13899, issued on 16 Dec 2019, directs consideration of the IHRA definition with regard to enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

On 25 May 2023, the White House released The U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, a 60-page document that mentions the IHRA definition only as one of a number of other definitions. There has been both praise and criticism of the document, as reviewed by The Jerusalem Post.

Thirty-Two US States as of September 2023 have adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism by legislation, executive order, or proclamation: List

Canadian Provinces – 4 of 10 (Alberta, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan) have adopted the definition by an order of council or resolution, and officials in 3 others (British Columbia, Manitoba, and Quebec) have expressed unofficial approval.

Some Non-governmental entities which have adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism:

Worldwide Adoptions Report: Current Database

Michael Whine, Applying the Working Definition of Antisemitism, Justice, No. 61 (2018)

Fiamma Nirenstein, Double Message, Double Standard: Institutions Abandoning the IHRA Definition of Anti‑Semitism, JCPA (2021)

Two Examples of Enactments Dealing With Anti-Semitism

EU Resolution of 1 Jun 2017 on Combating Anti-Semitism:  The resolution, adopted in response to the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, calls on member states to engage in over a dozen measures to combat anti-semitism, including the adoption and application of the IHRA working definition and ensuring the security of the Jewish citizens of their countries.

Germany:  Resolution, approved by the Bundestag [German Parliament] on 15 May 2019, condemns BDS as anti-Semitic and urges the government not to fund or support groups or activities that question Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself, or that call for the boycott of Israel, or actively support the BDS-movement.

Litigation

We here present information about only a few cases.  The Legal Network Initiative has a more extensive review of cases and documentation on its Case Law page.

United States

San Francisco State University.  Two lawsuits were filed by Jewish students alleging systematic anti-Semitism and discrimination; one in Federal District Court (2017) and the other in San Francisco Superior Court (2018).  The federal lawsuit was appealed after dismissal.  Both cases, after being intensely litigated were settled together in March 2018, with the university agreeing to undertake a series of actions to curb discrimination, including the expenditure of $200,000 to promote “viewpoint diversity”, and further agreeing to make a $36,000 contribution towards plaintiffs’ litigation expenses.

Mandel, et al. v. Bd. of Trustees of California State University, 17-cv-03511 (N.D. Cal., filed 19 Jun 2017).

Second Amended Complaint
District Court Order Dismissing Case
Settlement Agreement
Voluntary Dismissal in Court of Appeals

Volk and Kern v. Bd. of Trustees of California State University, CGC-18-563970 (Cal. Super. Ct., S.F. Co., filed 30 Jan 2018).

Complaint
Notice of Settlement and Dismissal

New York University.  A complaint was filed with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE), alleging that the University discriminated against students of Jewish descent, on the basis of their national origin, by failing to respond appropriately to incidents that created a hostile environment for Jewish students at the University. On 25 Sep 2020, the university entered a resolution agreement with the OCR in which it agreed to undertake several steps to address the climate of discrimination and harassment.

University of Vermont.  The Brandeis Center and Jewish on Campus filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), alleging that a teaching assistant harassed Jewish students who embraced Zionism and that pro-Zionist Jewish students were expelled from certain campus clubs. Also, the Hillel Center was vandalized with no one being punished. The OCR commenced an investigation but before it was completed the University entered into a resolution agreement on 3 Apr 2023, in which the University agreed to take appropriate remedial measures with compliance to be monitored by the OCR.   

United Kingdom, South Africa, and Australia

A number of cases are described and analyzed in the ILF report “Recognizing Anti-Zionist Antisemitism”, beginning on page 41.