Over the years, the working definition for antisemitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance – IHRA, while not legally binding, has become a widely used tool around the world to educate people about antisemitism, as well as recognize and counter its manifestations. The recent publication of a specific handbook on this issue, commissioned by the European Commission and published jointly with IHRA, with support from the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union, marks another stepstone towards awareness and taking action.
This result, which is fundamental in defining a continental operational framework, was reached through an intense confrontation that saw the participation also of the Italian representation at the IHRA, the Italian Prime Minister Office and the Union of Italian Jewish Communities. The publication comes in a time of a great commitment to this matter also in Italy, where a national strategy against antisemitism is being refined, which has the definition by IHRA as its reference point and in which explicit reference is made to all the categories that constitute its concrete and current manifestation.
Based on the comprehensive research carried out by the Federal Association of Departments for Research and Information on Antisemitism (Bundesverband RIAS), the handbook provides an overview of good practices by international organizations, national administrations, civil society and Jewish communities from across Europe. The 35 good practices are ranging from training for law enforcement to incident recording and reporting. Furthermore, the handbook includes 22 sourced incidents of antisemitism in Europe that highlight the relevance of the IHRA working definition of antisemitism when assessing manifestations of antisemitism. As the vice-President of the European Commission Margaritis Schinas said: “We need to fight antisemitism whenever we encounter it. Jewish life is part of our societies and we are determined to protect it. This new handbook makes it easier for all to fulfil this commitment. It responds to our Member States’ requests for better knowledge-sharing on the use of the IHRA definition. The handbook will become another valuable tool for Member States to effectively implement the landmark Council Declaration on combating antisemitism.” The Commission plans to adopt a comprehensive EU Strategy against antisemitism this year.
The European Jewish Congress (EJC) President Dr. Moshe Kantor welcomed the publication of the handbook as a key tool in the fight against anti-Jewish hatred in Europe. “It is fundamentally important to give governments and security agencies the necessary guidelines to implement the IHRA definition so that it has practical use to physically protect Jewish communities from antisemitism,” Dr. Kantor said.