Serbia adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced in a statement on 1 June. According to Jewish News Syndicate, the definition was adopted several months ago, but the government postponed the announcement amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The World Jewish Congress has welcomed the move as an “important step” in the global battle to combat antisemitism, and the critical nature of applying a universal definition to a universal problem.
Serbia has announced it is adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism. It is an important step in implementing the fight against antisemitism at all levels. pic.twitter.com/Yi17JGRhj7— WJC (@WorldJewishCong) June 3, 2020
The definition includes a number of examples of incidents and expressions that would constitute antisemitic behavior, including calls for harm of Jews, dehumanizing allegations about Jews, and Holocaust denial.
The announcement was applauded by the Embassy of Israel in Serbia who noted the definition will be crucial in helping Serbia “[recognize] and [prosecute] cases of this dangerous phenomenon.” Israel's Foreign Ministry Director General Yuval Rotem also welcomed the decision and called for other countries to follow Serbia’s example.
In 2016, the Serbian parliament passed a law offering compensation to Holocaust victims and their relatives for property illegally seized during the Holocaust. The legislation allocated an annual $1 million payments for the next 25 years, in one of the most just and wide-reaching moves among European states.
In February, Serbian parliament voted in favor of establishing a memorial center in honor of those killed at the Staro Sajmište concentration in Serbia. Around 10,000 Serbs, 7,000 Jews and 60 Roma are known to have perished in Staro Sajmište between 1941 and 1942.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder has been a vocal advocate of the importance for countries to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism and appoint a special envoy or coordinator tasked specifically with combating antisemitism.