We problem this name as students working in antisemitism research and associated fields.
On 13-14 October 2021, the leaders of the European Union and the United Nations and heads of state and authorities from many international locations will meet on the Malmö Worldwide Discussion board on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism.
Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven convenes this discussion board 21 years after the Stockholm Worldwide Discussion board on the Holocaust, which resulted within the Stockholm Declaration, the founding doc of the Worldwide Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
We welcome and help the declared objective of the Malmö Discussion board “to collectively take concrete steps ahead within the work on Holocaust remembrance and the struggle in opposition to antisemitism”.
Antisemitism and all different types of racism and bigotry pose a rising menace that should be fought most forcefully. We commend governments’ resolve and efforts on this regard.
On the similar time, we problem a stark warning in opposition to the political instrumentalisation of the struggle in opposition to antisemitism. Within the curiosity of the integrity, credibility and effectiveness of that struggle, we urge the leaders on the Malmö Discussion board to reject and counter this instrumentalisation.
A specific concern on this context is the “working definition of antisemitism” that the IHRA adopted in Might 2016, within the aftermath of the 2015 International Discussion board for Combating Antisemitism organised by the Israeli authorities.
Eleven “modern examples of antisemitism” have been hooked up to this IHRA definition, seven of which relate to Israel. These examples are being weaponised in opposition to human rights organisations and solidarity activists who denounce Israel’s occupation and human-rights violations.
They legitimise wrongful accusations of antisemitism, which function a warning for anybody voicing criticism of Israel’s remedy of the Palestinians. This has a chilling impact on free speech and educational freedom and compromises the struggle in opposition to antisemitism.
Regrettably, this clear abuse of the IHRA definition and of the examples has up to now not been acknowledged by governments and parliaments which have adopted it. Extra regarding, the European Union is working onerous to implement the IHRA definition throughout a number of coverage areas and to entrench it society-wide.
In January 2021, the European Fee printed a “Handbook” for that objective, which was harshly criticised by civil society stakeholders. Amongst different initiatives, the handbook promotes giving authorized impact to the IHRA definition and cultivates it as a criterion to allocate or deny funding to civil society organisations. We worry this can be a prelude to discriminatory and repressive insurance policies.
On 5 October 2021, the European Fee offered the EU’s long-awaited “Technique on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life”.
Just like the aforementioned handbook, this technique ignores the rising considerations in regards to the shortcomings and instrumentalisation of the IHRA definition, as additionally raised by varied stakeholders within the context of a public session launched by the Fee; together with this educational professional submission, with an annex illustrating the instrumentalisation of the IHRA definition and a joint letter by 10 European NGOs and networks. In actual fact, the EU’s new technique feeds these considerations.
With concern, we observe that the political instrumentalisation of the struggle in opposition to antisemitism and of the IHRA definition is being facilitated by coordinators and commissioners appointed by the European Fee and nationwide governments.
Particularly in Germany, this has created a poisonous and intimidating ambiance. We discover coordination with and reliance on foyer organisations shielding the Israeli authorities.
This political entanglement has a divisive and polarising impact, which undermines broad help for the struggle in opposition to antisemitism and distracts consideration from acute sources of antisemitism. It additionally contradicts the universalist spirit of the Stockholm Declaration, which is lacking from the IHRA definition.
Against this, an alternate definition of antisemitism launched earlier this yr does carry this spirit: the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (JDA).
The JDA was crafted by a bunch of students from the US, Israel, Europe, and the UK, who’ve huge expertise with the IHRA definition.
After multiple yr of deliberations, the JDA was launched in March 2021. It has been endorsed by greater than 300 students of antisemitism and associated fields, together with many heads of institutes in Europe and the US.
We encourage the leaders on the Malmö Discussion board so as to add the JDA to their coverage toolbox and depend on it for steering. Rooted in common rules, the JDA is clearer and extra coherent than the IHRA definition. With none underlying political agenda, it provides steering regarding political speech the place the IHRA definition has created muddle and controversy.
We advocate the JDA additionally in view of prime minister Löfven’s assertion, issued in anticipation of the Malmö Discussion board: “We should deal with Holocaust denial and antisemitism by defending and selling democratic values and respect for human rights”. The JDA displays and respects democratic values and human rights.
For the sake of a concrete consequence of the Malmö Discussion board, the Swedish authorities has invited all collaborating delegations to current “pledges”.
We name on the leaders on the Malmö Discussion board to collectively pledge to reject and counter the escalating political instrumentalisation of the struggle in opposition to antisemitism, which undermines democratic values and human rights and is inflicting grave hurt to this struggle.