Global Affairs

Canada to Adopt IHRA Definition of anti-Semitism

The government of Canada announced Tuesday that it will formally adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism as part of its anti-racism work.

Pablo Rodriguez, the minister of Canadian heritage and multiculturalism, made the announcement as he unveiled the government’s anti-racism campaign, the $45 million Foundation for Change: Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy 2019–2022.

“Diversity is one of Canada’s greatest strengths. While we take pride in being a welcoming and inclusive country, we know that racism and discrimination are still a reality for many Canadians across the country,” Rodriguez said in a statement.

“Our government recognizes that we are in a unique position to address racism in our institutions and society. This national anti-racism strategy is an essential first step in building a more inclusive country, where all Canadians can participate equally.”

A key component of the strategy will be the adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, an alliance Canada joined in 2009. Several European countries have already adopted the IHRA definition, including Germany, Britain, Romania, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Bulgaria.

B’nai Brith Canada described it as “the most universally accepted and expertly driven definition of anti-Semitism available today,” and one that “enjoys unprecedented consensus.” The organization’s annual audit found that anti-Semitic incidents in Canada increased by 16.5 percent from 2017 to 2018, hitting a record high for the third straight year.

Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) Board of Directors co-chair Jeffrey Rosenthal said, “This is a major milestone in the struggle against anti-Semitism. It sets a strong example and offers a practical tool for authorities – from police and prosecutors, to school principals and campus officials – as they work to tackle anti-Semitism on the ground across Canada.”

The definition notes that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.” But accusations of dual loyalty and the use of double standards against the Jewish State, as well as tenets of anti-Zionism like the denial of Jewish rights to self-determination, are considered manifestations of anti-Semitism.