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Press Release

ADL Welcomes U.K. Government’s Adoption of Anti-Semitism Definition

New York, NY, December 12, 2016 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed the British government’s adoption of a definition of anti-Semitism, which provides clarity to the general public and to law enforcement on the boundaries of legitimate speech. The definition is essentially identical to the definitions adopted by the U.S. State Department and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, comprised of 31 member states.

“This definition moves forward the British government’s commitment to the security and well-being of the Jewish community and implements one of the recommendations made by the recent Parliament Home Select Committee report on anti-Semitism in the UK,” said Marvin D. Nathan, ADL National Chair. “Prime Minister Theresa May and other government ministers have condemned anti-Semitism forcefully and frequently, and we welcome this clarifying action.”

“Other countries should follow Britain’s lead and adopt the definition, just as many legislatures emulated the British Parliament’s first comprehensive official evaluation of anti-Semitism in the U.K.,” added Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “Widespread adoption at the national level would be the best response to the failure to adopt this definition at the OSCE ministerial meeting last week due to Russian intransigence.”

The definition states, “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” 

Examples related to the State of Israel include:

  • Claiming the existence of Israel is racist, which denies the Jewish people their right to self-determination,
  • Comparing Israeli policies to those of the Nazi regime or using anti-Semitic motifs in criticizing Israel,
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel, and
  • Holding Israel to a different standard from other democracies in criticisms.

In the United States, ADL recently played a key role in drafting the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which calls on the U.S. Department of Education to “take into consideration” the definition of anti-Semitism developed by the U.S. State Department “as part of the Department’s assessment” of whether incidents are motivated by anti-Semitic intent when investigating possible violations of civil rights laws. The act does this while protecting free speech on campus.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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