The German federal government, the Bundeskabinett, has today formally adopted the International Definition of Antisemitism. The definition is clear and detailed, leaving no doubt as to what antisemitism is. In particular, the definition tackles the full spectrum of antisemitism, from ancient slurs to conspiracy myths to antisemitism in discourse about Israel.
Thomas de Maizière, the German Interior Minister, toldDeutsche Welle: “We Germans are particularly vigilant when our country is threatened by an increase in antisemitism. History made clear to us, in the most terrible way, the horrors to which antisemitism can lead.” The cabinet adopted the definition at it regular weekly meeting, and has recommended that public officials including law enforcement use the definition. The move came in response to an independent commission on antisemitism which recommended that the International Definition of Antisemitism be adopted. A member of the commission, parliamentarian Volker Beck, told Deutsche Welle that the adoption of the definition should be seen as a “first step” which would help formalise measures ranging from “legal prosecution to educational measures to the sensitisation of the judicial system”. Deidre Berger, the director of the Berlin Ramer Institute for German-Jewish Relations of the American Jewish Committee gave Deutsche Welle examples of antisemitism being “all too often ignored in recent years”, citing an incident in which “the courts considered an arson attack on a synagogue in Wuppertal as non-antisemitic”.
The formal adoption of the definition was also praised by officials of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance who have been urging the alliance’s 31 member states to formalise the domestic use of the definition.
Britain was the first country in the world to adopt the definition, something for which Campaign Against Antisemitism, Sir Eric Pickles and others worked hard over many meetings. Austria became the next national government to adopt the definition, followed by the Romanian government, and now the German government has done the same.
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