Person holds "Stop the Hate" sign
Danville community members march in demonstration against antisemetic flyers that were found on a local walking trail in Feb. 2022. (Photo/Tyler Callister)

Israel’s consul general: California should join other states in adopting IHRA definition of antisemitism

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There is no doubt that antisemitism is on the rise, and the Bay Area is not immune. The harm caused by physical, violent acts of hatred targeted at individuals and communities is indisputable, but more subtle forms of antisemitism are damaging, as well. This is why it is so crucial that we remain vigilant in calling out antisemitism when we see it — even if it comes in the form of a joke or tweet.

By allowing negative stereotypes about Judaism and the Jewish people to persist, we create room for more volatile ideas and hatred to grow.

I commend the S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council and Rabbi Ryan Bauer from Congregation Emanu-El for bringing to light one of the most pertinent issues Jewish people face today — in a recent San Francisco Chronicle article that quoted them.

I am also deeply appreciative of elected officials from the Bay Area for their steadfast commitment to combating antisemitism and protecting the Jewish community and its institutions.

Israel will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with our sisters and brothers in the Jewish community at the forefront of the fight against antisemitism. We will continue to work with our allies and friends and speak out against antisemitism in all forms, regardless of its origins, perpetrators or political motivations, whether explicit or encoded.

The Consulate General of Israel in San Francisco in particular is committed to defending the rights of the Jewish community here in the Bay Area and around the Pacific Northwest.

It is my hope that in 2023 we will see more instances of ordinary people standing up against antisemitism, even when it does not affect them directly

In order to address antisemitism effectively, we need a universal understanding of what it is. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism provides precisely this.

This non-legally binding definition was adopted unanimously in 2016, along with its 11 explanatory examples, by the 31 members of IHRA, the U.S. among them.

Since then, it has been widely accepted as a useful tool, as hundreds of entities around the world — international organizations, national governments, municipalities, NGOs, universities, sports clubs and other groups — have found it empowers them to address this scourge.

Bipartisan U.S. administrations have implemented the working definition and its examples in their policies, and at least two dozen U.S. states have since moved independently to adopt this definition, viewed by the State Department as integral to the fight against antisemitism.

It is time for the state of California to do the same.

It is my hope that in 2023 we will see more instances of ordinary people standing up against antisemitism, even when it does not affect them directly. I encourage all those who witness hatred and discrimination in their communities to take an active role in resisting it.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of J.

Marco Sermonetta
Marco Sermoneta

Marco Sermoneta is the San Francisco–based consul general of the State of Israel to the Pacific Northwest.