Europe

European Council Calls on All EU States to Adopt IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism

The European Council unanimously adopted a new declaration on Thursday regarding its fight against anti-Semitism and the development of a common security approach to better protect Jewish communities and institutions in Europe, The Jerusalem Post reported.

In its declaration, the Council calls on all EU member states to endorse the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism in the fields of law enforcement and training, as well as to reaffirm their commitment to Holocaust commemoration and education.

The document also calls on the European Commission and Europol to pay particular attention anti-Jewish hatred in the cyberspace and to content advocating anti-Semitic terrorist offenses.

In its declaration, the Council acknowledges that anti-Semitic hatred remains widespread across the continent and that Jews and Jewish institutions are particularly vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

The proposal was promoted by Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose country holds the rotating Presidency of the European Council.

Vice president of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, said that the declaration would lead to the development of a common security approach to protect Europe’s Jewish communities.

“In times of growing anti-Semitic hatred, the unanimous adoption of the declaration on the fight against antisemitism by the 28 EU member states sends an important signal to the Jewish community; the EU and each of its member states stand by their side to guarantee their safety and well-being,” he said.

Timmermans added that, “We cannot have a common fight without a common definition of what we are fighting against. Member states are called to use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism as a guidance tool, which would be an important step in the fight against anti-Semitism.”

The European Commission already has in place a range of actions to combat anti-Semitism.

In May 2016, the Commission signed a Code of Conduct with IT companies to take down illegal hate speech, including anti-Semitic content.

In January 2017, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Vera Jourová endorsed the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism and in November 2018, the EU acquired Permanent International Partner status with the IHRA.

Next week, on 10 December, the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency will publish the largest survey ever held among European Jews on their perception and experience of anti-Semitism, which will serve as a basis for further policy-making.

Earlier this week, a Spanish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Couso Permuy, compared Israel to Nazi Propaganda Minister Goebbels and denied that anti-Zionism was a form of anti-Semitism, violating two principles of the IHRA definition.

The EU’s decision comes in the wake of a report on CNN showing a “frightening” increase of anti-Semitic incidents across Europe.

[Photo: EU2017EE Estonian Presidency / Flickr ]