Working Definition of Antisemitism

On 26 May, 2016, the 31 Member Countries of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) adopted a non-legally binding Working Definition of Antisemitism to guide the organization in its work. The IHRA was the first intergovernmental body to adopt a working definition of antisemitism – the result of in-depth discourse between international experts and political representatives.

Democracies must pay closer attention to - and take specific steps to combat - the problem of antisemitism. Existential questions have been raised about the viability of continued Jewish life in Europe – a community that has existed in Europe for millennia.  Were this to change, so too would the future of Europe as a democratic and pluralistic society. In the words of Frans Timmermans, First Vice President of the European Commission, “If there’s no future for Jews in Europe, there’s no future for Europe.”

In order to combat antisemitism effectively, it is important to have clarity about what antisemitism is and how it may manifest itself. The IHRA tool captures antisemitism in its developmental stages and mutations, reflects current realities and is of practical use. It seeks to educate and inspires dialogue on forms of antisemitism: from antisemitism that emerges from hateful intent to unconscious forms of discrimination, as well as subsequent antisemitic actions that deny rights and/ or a feeling of safety and security to Jews or people identified as Jews.

The Working Definition states: “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.” The Working Definition, including its examples, was reviewed and decided upon unanimously during the IHRA's Bucharest plenary in May 2016.

The examples reflect forms of antisemitism as they exist today. This list is not meant to be exhaustive – as noted in the text proceeding the examples - since antisemitism is an ever-changing form of hatred that adapts to social, cultural, and political contexts over time.

To date, the Working Definition has been adopted and endorsed by the following governments and bodies: the United Kingdom (12 December 2016), Israel (22 January 2017), Austria (25 April 2017) Scotland (27 April 2017), Romania (25 May 2017), City of London (8 February 2017), Germany (20 September 2017), Bulgaria (18 October 2017), Lithuania (24 January 2018), former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (6 March 2018).

On 1 June 2017 the European Parliament voted to adopt a resolution calling on member states and their institutions to adopt and apply the working definition of antisemitism.

For more information, please see the Factsheet on the Working Definition of Antisemitism.

Community Security Trust