Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver and CIJA applaud the adoption of IHRA definition of antisemitism
Richmond, BC – February 13, 2023 – This evening, as part of its commitment to create a more diverse and inclusive city, Richmond City Council adopted the terminology and definitions in Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy 2019-2022, including Discrimination, Anti-Asian Racism, Anti-Black Racism, Islamophobia and Antisemitism. This motion made Richmond the latest Canadian jurisdiction to adopt or commit to using the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism. The decision received resounding support from leaders of Richmond’s Jewish community, who, in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), advocated for the definition to be adopted by the government as they looked to develop tools to tackle racism and hate.
The IHRA working definition of antisemitism is the consensus definition that best reflects lived experiences of Jews today. Developed by IHRA’s Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial, the definition is grounded in the research of the world’s foremost experts on antisemitism and the Holocaust. It is supported by the United Nations, the European Union, and thirty countries, including Canada and the United States.
“The City of Richmond’s commitment and leadership in combating hate and discrimination is an example to follow,” said Nico Slobinsky, Senior Director – Pacific Region, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. “To combat hate effectively, we must be able to define it. By adopting the definitions of prejudice set out in Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy, which includes IHRA, Richmond City Council demonstrates the importance it places in understanding how communities experience hate.”
The motion is timely as, in 2021, Canada saw a 27 percent surge in police-reported hate crimes. Antisemitic incidents targeting the Jewish community accounted for a significant portion: 55 percent of all religiously motivated incidents, and 14 percent of overall reported hate crimes. And yet, in Canada, Jews comprise less than one percent of the population.
Richmond’s adoption of these definitions of racism is essential to developing a framework to identify, understand, and combat the hate and oppression experienced by minorities. According to the motion, the adopted definitions of hate, including IHRA, “will inform the City of Richmond on setting policies and standards of behaviours that we can expect our Council, staff, contractors, suppliers and stakeholders to meet.”
“Today, Mayor Brodie and Richmond City Council sent a strong message that antisemitism or hate in any form have no place in society,” said Ezra Shanken, CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver. “The rise of antisemitic hate crimes across the country has made the need to counter them urgent. No one should live in fear because of who they are. The IHRA definition will help the people of Richmond identify antisemitism in all its manifestations so that they can help put a stop to it and protect the values of diversity, equality, and community that we cherish.”
Councillor Loo introduced the motion to adopt the terminology and definitions of hate established on pages 21-24 of Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy 2019-2022, in their entirety, on February 6.
“Every community should be empowered to define the hate and oppression they face. It is important that Jewish lived experience – that of our community in Canada and around the world – is reflected in the understanding of antisemitism. That is why the adoption of IHRA is so meaningful to the Jewish community. Today’s motion is a victory for all who stand against hate – no matter which group is the immediate target,” said Slobinsky.
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