Montreal suburb adopts IHRA definition of anti-Semitism

City council of Westmount adopts working definition of anti-Semitism based on that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

Elad Benari ,

Definition of anti-Semitism
Definition of anti-Semitism

The Westmount City Council, a suburb of the Canadian city of Montreal, unanimously adopted this week a working definition of anti-Semitism based on that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), the Canadian Jewish News reported.

The affluent Montreal suburb of 21,000 becomes the second municipality in Canada to adopt the IHRA definition, following the Toronto-area City of Vaughan, which did so on January 28.

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 issue of anti-Semitism was “top of mind following the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz,” Westmount Mayor Christina Smith told the Canadian Jewish News.

“We just felt it was an opportunity to mark a milestone and also an opportunity to call out anti-Semitism and racism,” she said.

The motion states that the City of Westmount is “dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism and discrimination in all its forms.”

The decision was applauded by Federation CJA and its advocacy agency, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).

“Westmount’s adoption of the IHRA definition is an important step in the struggle against anti-Semitism and sets an important precedent for other municipalities on the Island of Montreal,” said federation president Gail Adelson-Marcovitz and Rabbi Reuben Poupko, co-chair of CIJA-Quebec, in a joint statement.

“We applaud [Smith and Gallery] for showing leadership and demonstrating the need for action in combating contemporary anti-Semitism,” they added.

The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism has been adopted by a number of countries in recent years, including Germany, Britain, Austria, Romania, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, France and Cyprus.

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