St John's Harbour in Newfoundland, Canada
St John's Harbour in Newfoundland, CanadaiStock

Newfoundland and Labrador's Gerry Byrne, Minister of Immigration, Population Growth and Skills, on Wednesday signed a proclamation to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The province is now the eighth to adopt or commit to using the non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism.

The decision received resounding support from Newfoundland’s Jewish communities, who, in partnership with the Atlantic Jewish Council and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), advocated through the Ministerial Committee on Anti-Racism for the definition to be adopted by the government as they work to eradicate racism in all its forms.

The IHRA working definition of antisemitism provides policymakers, law enforcement, and community leaders a tool to identify, understand, and combat contemporary forms of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere. IHRA is the consensus definition of antisemitism that best reflects lived experience of Jews today. Developed by IHRA’s Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial, it is grounded in the research of the world’s foremost experts on antisemitism and the Holocaust and is supported by the UN, EU, and 35 countries including the US and Canada. It is also used by Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick.

“Today, Minister Byrne and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador sent a strong message that antisemitism has no place in society,” said Dr. Michael Paul, President of Beth El Synagogue. “To combat antisemitism effectively, it must first be defined. The IHRA definition will help Newfoundlanders and Labradorians identify and combat antisemitism in all its forms. With antisemitic hate crimes on the rise across the country, fighting antisemitism is a priority – not only for the Jewish community; we must all stand together against hate.”

Steven Wolinetz, the President of the Jewish Community Havura, echoed Dr. Paul’s comments. According to Wolinetz, “Adopting the IHRA definition is an important step. It not only provides a benchmark against which statements and actions can be assessed but is also an important tool to ensure that our increasingly diverse society remains open and tolerant. I hope that all levels of government will take it to heart and consider it when making difficult decisions.”

“The IHRA definition provides a critical framework to guide officials in addressing anti-Jewish hate and discrimination,” said Shimon Koffler Fogel, President and CEO, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. “We are encouraged that, through IHRA, Jewish lived experience will now be reflected in the official understanding of antisemitism. The adoption of IHRA signals that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador recognizes the struggle faced by the Jewish community amid rising antisemitism across the globe and in Canada and that they stand in solidarity in the fight against Jew-hatred and all forms of hate. This is a victory for all who stand against hate – no matter what group is the immediate target.”

The IHRA definition of antisemitism will now be used by the government of Newfoundland and Labrador in all appropriate contexts where definitions of hate, including antisemitism, are applicable.

"We remain unwavering in our commitment to always challenge antisemitism, wherever and whenever it occurs,” said Minister Byrne, who spearheaded the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s decision to adopt the IHRA definition. “This historic proclamation builds further upon the strong and collaborative relationship between the Jewish community and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. This definition of antisemitism is being adopted along with a pledge to continue the dialogue on antisemitism and to continue to demonstrate support for the Jewish community.”

Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) commended the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for its adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

“Today, the Newfoundland and Labrador government sent a strong message that it is an ally of the Jewish community, in the province and across the country, and is committed to confronting antisemitism in all its forms,” said FSWC President and CEO Michael Levitt. “The IHRA definition of antisemitism is a critical tool for identifying and combatting Jew-hatred, and it is needed now more than ever as Jewish people in the country continue to be the targets of hate incidents.”