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June 26, 2019 11:14 am

Canada Adopts Universal Definition of Antisemitism

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A pro-BDS demonstration. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Canada’s government announced on Tuesday that it will formally adopt the widely accepted definition of antisemitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance as part of the country’s anti-racism initiative.

“To help address resurgent antisemitism in Canada, we’re adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism as part of our strategy,” said Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism Pablo Rodriguez.

Canada joined the IHRA is 2009 and is one of 32 member states.

According to the IHRA definition, “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.”

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Jewish groups applauded Rodriguez’s announcement.

“Peddlers of antisemitism must be held accountable, but this can only happen if authorities can clearly and consistently identify acts of Jew-hatred,” said Joel Reitman, co-chair of the board of directors at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

“This is why CIJA has been calling on all three levels of government to use the (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism,” he continued. “The IHRA definition, which has been adopted by dozens of democratic countries, is a vital tool in countering the global rise in antisemitism.”

“Canada adopting IHRA’s definition of antisemitism is an important symbolic and declaratory move,” said NGO Monitor Founder and President Gerald Steinberg. “We hope that the next steps will pertain to its implementation within Canadian policy, including regarding Canadian international aid and support of NGOs.”

B’nai Brith Canada labeled the IHRA standard “the most universally accepted and expertly driven definition of antisemitism available today,” and one that “enjoys unprecedented consensus.”

Some 392,000 Jews reside in Canada, or 1 percent of the overall population.

Overall, 2,041 antisemitic incidents in Canada were reported in 2018—a 16.5 percent increase from the previous year, according to B’nai Brith Canada.

Incidents of vandalism decreased from 327 to 221, as violent antisemitic attacks also dropped, from 16 in 2017 to 11 in 2018.

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