CST welcomes British Government’s decision to adopt International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism

12 Dec 2016 by CST

CST welcomes and applauds the decision by the British Government, led by Theresa May, to adopt a definition of antisemitism. Britain is the first European country to adopt a definition of antisemitism in order to combat antisemitic hate crimes.

In the first six months of 2016, CST recorded 557 antisemitic incidents, an increase on the first six months of 2015 where 500 incidents were recorded. Over the last year, CST has assisted an unprecedented number of victims of antisemitic incidents, such as aiding Jewish MP Luciana Berger who was subjected to a barrage of online abuse by antisemitic troll Joshua Bonehill-Paine, who was jailed last week. CST continuously receives reports of antisemitic abuse online, and we hope this new definition will help to reduce the amount of antisemitism on the internet.

CST has worked closely with Government representatives and policy makers over the past two decades to ensure that antisemitism is dealt with efficiently. Responding to the announcement of the new definition, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said that antisemitism must be understood for what it is; “an attack on the identity of people who live, contribute and are valued in our society…. there can be no excuses for anti-Semitism or any other form of racism or prejudice…crimes must always be reported, and the law enforced, but we also want to create an environment that prevents hate crime from happening in the first place."

The full definition of antisemitism adopted by the Government states that “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”. This definition is part of a range of legal and non-legal definitions that are helpful in recognising and opposing antisemitism.

The adoption is an important step that can help the necessary work of reducing antisemitism and tackling those who promote it. We also appreciate the Government’s efforts to encourage the use of this definition in international arenas and we hope that other Governments and international bodies will follow suit.