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October 31, 2013

In Praise of the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism

This post, by Adam Levick, is cross-posted from CiF Watch

In 2005, following several years which saw a disturbing rise in antisemitic violence across Europe, the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) reached a Working Definition of Antisemitism.

Later in the year, the Working Definition of Antisemitism was prominently referenced at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Cordoba Conference. And, since then, many other bodies have advocated its usage. The one-page Working Definition of Antisemitism (below) evolved as a result of the efforts of a large number of European institutions and human rights experts.

The stated goal of the Working Definition of Antisemitism was to provide a guide (to EU members states) for identifying incidents, collecting data and supporting the implementation and enforcement of legislation dealing with antisemitism.

Here it is:

Recently, a commentator who has expressed sympathy for antisemites, and routinely calls for the end of the Jewish state, used his platform at a site notable for endorsing terrorism and equating Zionism to Nazism, to falsely characterize the Working Definition of Antisemitism as “an abandoned draft text.”

While it is narrowly true that the website of Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), the successor to the EUMC, doesn’t include the text of the Working Definition of Antisemitism – due to the fact that its mandate differs from EUMC – here are the facts:

• The State Department report on Global Antisemitism in 2008 included the following: "The EUMC’s working definition provides a useful framework for identifying and understanding the problem and is adopted for the purposes of this report."

• The Working Definition of Antisemitism was cited by the US State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism in testimony given to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (in Helsinki) in 2011, and is currently endorsed on the State Department’s "Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism" page.

• The Working Definition of Antisemitism was endorsed by the London Declaration of the Inter Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism in 2009.

• In 2010, the UK All-Party Inquiry into antisemitism recommended that the Working Definition of Antisemitism should be adopted and promoted by the Government and law enforcement agencies.

• The UK National Union of Students renewed their support for the Working Definition of Antisemitism in 2013.

• An official document published by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) recommends the Working Definition of Antisemitism as a valuable hate crime data collection tool for law enforcement agencies, and for educators.

• The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly has formally recognized the Working Definition of Antisemitism.

Though most manifestations of antisemitism included in the Working Definition of Antisemitism shouldn’t even need to be pointed out (such as ‘calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion’), many who oppose it do so for the following reasons:

1) It defines as antisemitic the equating of Zionism with Nazism.

2) It defines as antisemitic calls for the end of the Jewish state.

It is of course no coincidence that this recent attack on the Working Definition of Antisemitism was leveled by a commentator who continually promotes the second charge at a site which has endorsed the first.

Yet, despite the protests from a few marginal, extremist voices, the Working Definition continues to represent a widely respected, useful tool for understanding modern manifestations of antisemitism, and this blog will continue to use it in our continuing fight against such racism at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’.

Posted by GI at October 31, 2013 04:07 PM

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