The government of Canada announced on Tuesday it will formally adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism as part of its anti-racism strategy.
The announcement came from Pablo Rodriguez, the minister of Canadian heritage and multiculturalism, according to the Canadian Jewish News.
The ministry unveiled Building a Foundation for Change: Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy 2019–2022, “which helps advance the government of Canada’s vision of fostering and promoting a more inclusive and equitable country for all Canadians,” a statement from Rodriguez’s office read.
A key component of the $45 million federal strategy will be the adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which was accepted by the alliance in 2016. Canada joined the IHRA in 2009 and is now one of 32 member nations.
The definition includes some examples of anti-Israel vitriol, but states that criticism of Israel that is comparable to criticism of any other country does not constitute anti-Semitism.
Several countries in Europe have already adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, including Germany, Britain, Austria, Romania, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. In 2017, the European Parliament voted to adopt a resolution calling on member states and their institutions to apply the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.
Earlier this month, the Organization of American States also said it will adopt the IHRA definition.
B’nai Brith Canada called the IHRA definition “the most universally accepted and expertly driven definition of anti-Semitism available today”; one that “enjoys unprecedented consensus.”
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) noted that the IHRA definition now constitutes the world’s most widely accepted definition of anti-Semitism, having been endorsed or adopted by dozens of countries and bodies.
CIJA applauded Canada’s adoption of the definition.
“Peddlers of anti-Semitism must be held accountable, but this can only happen if authorities can clearly and consistently identify acts of Jew hatred,” said Joel Reitman, co-chair of CIJA’s board of directors, according to the Canadian Jewish News.
“This is why CIJA has been calling on all three levels of government to use the (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism. The IHRA definition – which has been adopted by dozens of democratic countries – is a vital tool in countering the global rise in anti-Semitism,” he added.
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) also commended the Canadian government for its adoption of the IHRA definition.
"As anti-Semitism rises in this country, universities, provincial governments, unions, church groups, the media and others will have this important tool as a reference point when determining what is and isn't antisemitic," said FSWC President and CEO Avi Benlolo.
IHRA chairman Georges Santer praised Canada's decision to adopt its definition of anti-Semitism.
"The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance commends the Canadian Government’s decision to adopt the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism. Canada is now the 17th country to adopt the working definition domestically and we are pleased this tool will be used to further support the global effort to counter anti-Semitism. We continue to work with our 33 Member Countries to fulfill the international community’s responsibility to fight the evil of anti-Semitism.