How We Define Antisemitism

Though the manifestation of antisemitism takes many forms, the most widely used definition of contemporary antisemitism is the Working Definition produced in 2005 by the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), an EU body which monitors racism and antisemitism in EU Member States (the EUMC has since been succeeded by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)).

The Report of the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism (September 2006) in the UK recommended the adoption and promotion of the EUMC working definition by the British government and law enforcement agencies and the report of Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism (March 2008) of the US State Department utilized this definition for the purpose of its analysis.

The UK government’s response to the Report of the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism was that the Macpherson definition of racism, which defines a racist incident as  “any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person”,  includes antisemitism. Although the UK government did not adopt the EUMC Working Definition, implicit in their response is an acknowledgment that since the Macpherson definition is even broader than the EUMC Working Definition, the latter is subsumed into the former.

According to the EUMC,

Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities. In addition, such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for ‘why things go wrong’.

The EUMC then goes on to cite specific examples of antisemitism including:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
  • Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

Specifically with respect to Israel, taking into account the overall context, the EUMC gave the following examples:

  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

In utilizing the EUMC definition, it bears emphasizing that at CiF Watch we support open and honest debate about the Israel/Palestinian conflict including harsh criticism of Israel as long as the criticism of Israel is similar to that leveled against any other nation of the world.