Montreal Borough Votes to Adopt IHRA Definition of Antisemitism in Wake of Synagogue Vandalism
Councillors in Montreal’s most populous borough voted on Wednesday to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, joining hundreds of civic organizations, city councils and national governments around the world who have already done the same.
The motion to adopt the definition was agreed on at a meeting of councillors from Montreal’s Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough, which coincided with International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Lionel Perez, the councillor who sponsored the motion, said that adopting the IHRA definition — which addresses both traditional expressions of antisemitism and the more recent mutations that are centered on enmity toward Zionism — was an important milestone.
“It will enable us to have a common understanding and definition of antisemitism, to be able to measure it, to be able to do awareness and education and to fight it,” Perez said, in remarks quoted by broadcaster CBC.
“The first thing you need to do to be able to fight something is to define it,” he argued.
Sue Montgomery, the borough’s mayor, emphasized the significance of adopting the definition on a day when the world commemorated Nazi atrocities against Jews and others during World War II.
“Today is a reminder that we must never be indifferent in the face of antisemitism, prejudice and hate in our community and around the world. We also remember that before there were gas chambers, there was hateful rhetoric,” Montgomery said.
Jewish groups welcomed the announcement.
“We commend the borough of Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and the entire city of Montreal for this important step towards the goal of eliminating antisemitism in this country,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada.
In a post on Twitter, CIJA — the representative body of Quebec’s Jewish community — similarly praised the borough. The group pointed out that the adoption of the IHRA definition took place just two weeks after the doors of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim, a 160-year-old Modern Orthodox synagogue in Montreal’s Westmount neighborhood, were defaced with swastikas.
La communauté juive salue l'adoption de la définition de l'#IHRA par l'arrondissement de Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. La récente attaque contre la congrégation Shaar Hashomayim et la prolifération de l'#antisémitisme en ligne devraient nous inciter à agir. #polmtl #polqc
— CIJA-Qc (@CIJAQC) January 27, 2021