Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver and CIJA applaud the adoption of framework to identify, understand, and combat antisemitism
Vancouver, BC – November 16, 2022 – Today, Vancouver City Council became the latest Canadian jurisdiction to adopt or commit to using the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.
The decision received support from organized Jewish community representatives, including both the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).
“Defining antisemitism is an essential step towards recognizing its manifestations and being able to counteract it,” said Shimon Koffler Fogel, President and CEO, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. “Today’s adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism by Mayor Ken Sim and Vancouver City Council is a clear stand against the rise in acts of hatred against members of the Jewish community.”
The IHRA working definition of antisemitism is the consensus 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 30 countries, including the United States and Canada.
“History has repeatedly shown, what begins as hatred of Jews never ends as hatred of Jews. Canadians must stand united with the Jewish community in the fight against antisemitism,” continued Fogel. “The decision made by Vancouver City Council today is a victory for all who stand against hate – no matter which group is the immediate target.”
As antisemitic incidents continue to rise across the country, the IHRA definition of antisemitism provides policymakers, law enforcement, and community leaders an effective framework to identify and combat contemporary forms of antisemitism in all spheres of public life.
“Today, Mayor Sim and the vast majority of Vancouver City Council sent a strong message that antisemitism has no place in society,” said Ezra Shanken, CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver. “To combat antisemitism effectively, it must first be defined. The IHRA definition will help the people of Vancouver identify and combat antisemitism in all its forms. The rise of antisemitic hate crimes across the country has meant that fighting antisemitism must be a priority for all Vancouverites and Canadians, not just members of the Jewish community.”
Councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung introduced the motion to adopt the IHRA definition.
“Nobody should have to live in fear because of who they are. It was an honour to bring this motion forward to adopt the IHRA working definition of antisemitism,” said Vancouver City Councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung. “We stand united with Vancouver’s Jewish community in the ongoing fight against antisemitism and the troubling rise of hate incidents in our city.”
“The best means to combat hate is through education, and the IHRA definition can help foster a deeper level of understanding,” continued Kirby-Yung. “Education is more powerful than any punitive actions could ever be.”
“We are proud to stand with the Jewish community both in Vancouver and around the world,” said Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim. “Antisemitism has no place in our city, and today we take an important step towards building a more inclusive and safe society for all.”
Learn more about the IHRA definition of antisemitism here.
The IHRA non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism:
“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
Full details and contemporary examples of antisemitism can be found here.
About the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is the advocacy agent of Jewish Federations across Canada. CIJA is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve and protect Jewish life in Canada through advocacy and to advance the public policy interests of Canada’s organized Jewish community.
About Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver
Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver is the central planning, convening, facilitating, and fundraising organization for the local Jewish community. Through the Federation Annual Campaign, special project funding, and the Jewish Community Foundation, Jewish Federation generates the funds needed to meet community needs today, tomorrow and for years to come. Jewish Federation works collaboratively with more than three dozen partner organizations, unifying their work. Together, we touch the lives of thousands of community members locally, in our partnership region in Israel, and around the world.
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