Working definition of Antisemitism
The “Working Definition of Antisemitism” was developed in 2004 by the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), the predecessor organization of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), together with numerous NGOs. 2014, prior to the establishment of the Department for Research and Information on Antisemitism Berlin (RIAS) it was operationalised and adjusted in a few places for the German context by the Association for Democratic Culture in Berlin eV (VDK e.V.) in coordination with other civil society organizations for the purpose of victim support services and incidents monitoring. Nevertheless, it was clear that no example of the definition can be deleted from the definition. In addition, the examples cited in the definition have been classified under different categories of antisemitism. This operationalized version has been the basis of the work of RIAS since the beginning of the project.
RIAS therefore works with the following version of the IHRA working definition (italics were added to emphasize adjustments for the German context):
Antisemitism describes socially traditional, third-party constructs of a Jewish collective. The effectiveness of these fictions can be seen in the spread of antisemitic attitudes and public debates and can 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.
Manifestations might include the targeting of the State of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.
Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:
Basic antisemitic manifestations:
- Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
- The depiction of Jewish religious practice as an expression of an archaic culture.
- Third-party constructions of a Jewish collective with specific physical and character traits.
Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
- Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Shoah).
- The claim that Jews are responsible for the Shoah.
- Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
- Defense against guilt expresses itself in the indignation toward and rejection of positions and symbols that remind one of the National Socialist crimes against the Jews. They often appear together with mockery of the victims.
- Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
- Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist/colonial endeavor.
- Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
- Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
- Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
- Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.
Antisemitic acts are criminal when they are so defined by law (for example, denial of the Holocaust or distribution of antisemitic materials in some countries).
Criminal acts are antisemitic when the targets of attacks, whether they are people or property – such as buildings, schools, places of worship and cemeteries – are selected because they are, or are perceived to be, Jewish or linked to Jews.
Antisemitic discrimination is the denial to Jews of opportunities or services available to others and is illegal in many countries.