At CFI’s Annual Business Lunch yesterday, Prime Minister Theresa May announced fresh steps from the Government in the fight against anti-Semitism, formally adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism.
In her speech, the Prime Minister explained how adopting the international definition will ensure that culprits will not be able to get away with being anti-Semitic because the term is ill-defined, or because different organisations or bodies have different interpretations of it.
Prime Minister May said at CFI’s biggest ever Annual Business Lunch: “Israel guarantees the rights of people of all religions, races and sexualities, and it wants to enable everyone to flourish. Our aim in Britain is the same: to create a better, fairer society, helping everyone to reach as far as their talents will allow.
“It is unacceptable that there is anti-Semitism in this country. It is even worse that incidents are reportedly on the rise. As a government we are making a real difference and adopting this measure is a ground-breaking step.
“It means there will be one definition of anti-Semitism – in essence, language or behaviour that displays hatred towards Jews because they are Jews – and anyone guilty of that will be called out on it”.
She added: “Just last week, we were at the forefront to try to ensure that the definition was adopted across the continent too, at the summit of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The result was 56 countries in favour. One country opposed it: Russia. But, as I said, we will adopt it here in the UK”.
The UK government, supported by the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues, Rt. Hon. Sir Eric Pickles MP, has been at the forefront of establishing the agreed international definition and will continue to promote its adoption across the world.
The IHRA anti-Semitism definition states: “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities”.
The IHRA definition, which Rt. Hon. Sir Eric Pickles MP played a leading role in drafting, is widely accepted by many Jewish groups. It includes contemporary examples such as “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”.