Independent Jewish Voices Canada posted an open letter to Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim on their website before the Nov. 16 city council vote, expressing concern over the intention to endorse the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism.
While applauding council’s intention to fight antisemitism, Neil Naiman, chair, IJV Canada, Vancouver chapter, wrote, “We are of the view, however, that the IHRA definition serves to deflect attention from real antisemitism by focusing on criticisms of Israel. It does so by adding to the basic definition of antisemitism what it deems to be 11 ‘examples’ of antisemitism – seven of which relate to Israel.
“The existence of these examples and the focus on defending Israel have led IJV and a host of other organizations to oppose the IHRA definition. These include the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, the Canadian Association of University Teachers, 40 faculty associations, the Jewish Faculty Network, and many others. More than 650 Jewish academics across the country having signed a petition urging the rejection of the IHRA.”
The letter states, “The IHRA definition raises issues which have been debated in the Jewish community for more than 100 years, issues about which there is no community consensus. For example, many of IJV’s members join with Palestinians and others in condemning Israel as a ‘racist endeavour’ (to use one of the IHRA examples). The basis for this charge is that 750,000 Palestinians were expelled when Israel was founded, that it subjugates the inhabitants of the Occupied Palestinian Territories under military rule and subjects Palestinian citizens of Israel to second class status. The IHRA definition would deem these IJV members to be ‘antisemitic.’ By adopting the IHRA definition Vancouver council will be condemning some of its citizens as racists and antisemites based on their legitimate political views of the situation in Israel-Palestine. This would be unconscionable.”
For the full letter, visit ijvcanada.org/no-ihra-vancouver.