Canadian city adopts IHRA definition of anti-Semitism

CIJA welcomes move by City of Barrie, located 85 kilometers north of Toronto, to adopt IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

Elad Benari ,

Definition of anti-Semitism and anti-Semite
Definition of anti-Semitism and anti-Semite

The City of Barrie, which is located 85 kilometers (53 miles) north of Toronto, on Monday joined a growing list of Canadian municipalities and adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

Noah Shack, Vice President of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), welcomed the move and said, “We applaud Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman and members of the Barrie City Council for their leadership, support and solidarity with the Jewish community. By adopting the IHRA definition, the council has sent a clear message: there is no place for anti-Semitism and hate in Barrie.”

“While Canada remains a wonderful place to be Jewish, Statistics Canada data confirms an alarming trend of Jews being the country’s most frequent target of hate crime. This is not just a problem for Jewish communities – it harms society at large. The adoption of the IHRA definition is an important step in addressing this scourge. After all, you can’t effectively solve a problem if you can’t properly identify it,” added Shack.

“The IHRA definition is the global standard, endorsed by 35 countries including Canada, the European Parliament and the United Nations. It is deeply heartening that Barrie Council has joined a growing list of Ontario cities that are using this crucial tool in the fight against anti-Semitism.”

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.

The York Regional Council, which represents several municipalities located north of Toronto, earlier this year also adopted the IHRA definition.

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.