Vaughan, Ontario
Vaughan, OntarioiStock

The York Regional Council, which represents several municipalities located north of Toronto, on Thursday adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism.

The Council represents the municipalities of Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Newmarket, Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, and Whitchurch-Stouffville.

The move was welcomed by Noah Shack, Vice President, GTA, of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).

“York Regional Council’s adoption of the IHRA definition is another crucial step in the fight against antisemitism. We commend the mayors and councillors from the entire region for their leadership, particularly Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua and Vaughan Regional Councillors Mario Ferri, Gino Rosati and Linda Jackson for moving this important initiative forward,” Shack said in a statement.

“Canada, Ontario and York Region have thriving, vibrant Jewish communities and remain among the greatest places in the world to live as a minority group. However, Statistics Canada data consistently shows that Jewish Canadians continue to be the most frequently targeted group when it comes to hate crimes. Today’s vote sends an unequivocal message that antisemitic hate and discrimination, which continues to thrive amidst the COVID-19 crisis, will not be tolerated,” he added.

“We cannot effectively combat resurgent anti-Semitism without clearly defining it. The IHRA definition, which has been adopted by a growing number of jurisdictions both in Canada and around the world, will be a helpful tool for York Region in addressing this pernicious hate."

The IHRA working definition offers a comprehensive description of anti-Semitism in its various forms, including hatred and discrimination against Jews, Holocaust denial and, sometimes controversially, the way anti-Semitism relates to the ways criticism of Israel is expressed.

The government of Canada formally adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism last year as part of its anti-racism strategy.

Earlier this year, the Westmount City Council, a suburb of the Canadian city of Montreal, unanimously adopted the IHRA definition as well.

Outside of Canada, the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism has been adopted in recent years by, among others, Germany, Britain, Austria, Romania, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, France and Cyprus.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)