SIG President calls on Switzerland to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism

The President of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG/FCSI), Ralph Lewin has called on the Swiss government to adopt the IHRA working definition of antisemitism.

In an op-ed originally published in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ), Mr. Lewin wrote: “After many years of work with the participation of renowned antisemitism and Holocaust researchers, the definition was presented in 2016. It is now endorsed and applied by [31] states as well as various cities and organisations. It is supplemented by eleven examples that make it easier to use.”

A new definition of antisemitism was recently introduced with the so-called Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism JDA. The JDA wants to position itself as an applicable, concise and historically well-founded core definition of anti-Semitism. You can either accept this self-assessment or not. The fact is, however, that the JDA is undermining the IHRA’s successes in the fight against anti-Semitism and is focusing on one point of criticism: anti-Semitism related to Israel.

Addressing the claims of the supporters of the self-styled Jerusalem definition of antisemitism (JDA), Mr. Lewin added: “the IHRA definition does not rule out criticism of Israel’s politics. On the contrary: it expressly allows it, provided it does not apply different standards to Israel than to other countries. We think that’s right too.”

“Of course, no definition is immune to being interpreted politically. However, the IHRA definition has come a long way through the committees for a number of years and is increasingly being used. The cause is not served if a new debate is launched and one definition is contrasted with another,” he continued.

“From the perspective of the Jewish community, it is now time for Switzerland to take this step and commit to the IHRA definition. A proposal by the Council of States requires a report from the Federal Council.”

“Instead of getting lost in politically charged debates and discussions, antisemitism must be combated efficiently and effectively”,  Mr. Lewin concluded. “For this we need tools like the IHRA definition.”

Mr. Lewin was elected in 2020 as President of the SIG/FCSI is Switzerland’s EJC affiliate.


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