WJC calls Labour’s decision to adopt IHRA definition of antisemitism step in right direction: “We hope action will be forthcoming”

NEW YORK – The World Jewish Congress views the UK Labour Party’s decision to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism in full as “a step in the right direction,” and echoes the British Jewish community’s calls to follow up with appropriate action to root out incidences of racism from top to bottom, WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer said Tuesday.

“The adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism by the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party in the UK is a step in the right direction but will not, in itself, be enough to deal with the damaging cases of antisemitism which have struck at the heart of its relationship with the UK Jewish community,” Singer said.

“Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn must now do everything in his power to ensure that all such cases are dealt with as a matter of priority. At a time of heightened populism and extremism in Europe and beyond, we have been disheartened to see a lack of leadership from a once well-respected party on this issue. We hope action will be forthcoming,” Singer said.

“The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, including each of its 11 integral examples, is a crucial code of conduct, which, if adopted universally, can truly guide governments and individual entities in the fight against racism and discrimination,” Singer added. “Under the leadership of our president, Ronald S. Lauder, the WJC has made it a priority to fight antisemitism on all levels, and we deeply hope that other organizations and bodies will follow suit.”

The World Jewish Congress has stood beside its affiliate, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, in urging Labour to adopt the definition in full, and has advocated for years to all members of IHRA to do the same. As part of the WJC’s commitment to fighting antisemitism, it recently named Jewish leader Julius Meinl as Commissioner for Combating Antisemitism.

In an op-ed in the New Statesman on August 23, Singer wrote: “For us it is clear, however, that adoption [of the IHRA definition] itself is not enough; following adoption, national parliaments need to recognize the importance of applying the definition systematically, to yield as an effective tool for law enforcement. Adopt; encode; and enforce. Only then, can antisemitism be confronted appropriately and comprehensively.” 

Board of Deputies of British Jews President Marie van der Zyl on Tuesday also released the following statement: “The decision by the National Executive Committee to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of Antisemitism in full with all of its illustrative examples had to be the right call. It is very long overdue and regrettable that Labour has wasted a whole summer trying to dictate to Jews what constitutes offence against us. However the adoption of the internationally-recognised definition by itself, can only be the beginning. Action is what matters.”

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