On 10 December, 2018, the IHRA Chair, Ambassador Sandro De Bernardin, incoming IHRA Chair, Ambassador Georges Santer and Deputy Executive Secretary attended the Launch Conference of the 2nd EU Survey on the Experiences and Perceptions of Antisemitism Among Jews in the EU: the largest survey of Jewish people ever conducted. Covering 12 EU Member States, the survey reached almost 16,500 individuals who identify as being Jewish.
The conference was organized by one of the IHRA’s Permanent International Partner Organizations, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. Keynote speakers included Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Michael O’Flaherty, the EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vera Jourova, and the European Commission Coordinator on Combating Antisemitism, Katharina von Schnurbein. A number of IHRA Delegates were in attendance, including Head of the Belgian Delegation to the IHRA, Ambassador Jan Deboutte, and Head of the Delegation of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the IHRA, Ambassador Jovan Tegovski.
Michael O’Flaherty stated that “antisemitism is an essential problem for the European Union and its member countries”. Katharina von Schnurbein stressed that Jewish citizens should have the feeling that they are being supported by their states and that they should not feel left alone. The European Union became a Permanent International Partner of the IHRA on 29 November 2018.
Vera Jourova explained, “The status of Permanent International Partner with the IHRA will enable the European Union to liaise with one of the most important organizations in the field of Holocaust education and remembrance”, inspiring finding new and innovative ways of remembrance.
The IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism was mentioned by every speaker. Hannah Rose, President of the Union of Jewish Students, commended the IHRA on its Working Definition, explaining that it helped identify incidents of antisemitism. Jourova stated “it is crucial to agree on a definition on antisemitism. You cannot fight it if you cannot define it”.
On 26 May, 2016, the 31 Member Countries of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) adopted the 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.
The IHRA unites governments and experts to strengthen, advance and promote Holocaust education, remembrance and research worldwide, and to uphold the commitments of the 2000 Stockholm Declaration.