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General Articles
Removal of the "Working Definition of Anti-Semitism" by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights
Editorial Note:
Recently the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (AFR) removed the "Working Definition of Anti-Semitism from its website.  The doc'ument was composed in 2004 by the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) and contained a list of anti-Semitic acts and expressions, including egregious attacks on Israel and Zionism.   The latter was a recognition that traditional acts of anti-Semitism have been surpassed by anti-Zionism and anti-Israelism.  The "Working Definition" have served as a semi-legal guideline in monitoring the growing instances of anti-Semitism in Europe.  The docu'ment - written by a group of legal scholars - made it clear that criticism of Israel and its occupation policy was a legitimate expression of free speech.  On the other hand, equating Israel with Nazi Germany, the so-called "Nazification of Israel" was considered to be an anti-Semitic expression.
The removal of the "Working Definition" has caused an uproar among European Jews and their representatives.  Some, like Shimon Samuels, director for International Relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, expressed puzzlement that the AFR, according to its spokesperson, lack the official definition of anti-Semitism. Samuels wandered how can anyone fight anti-Semitism without defining what it is.   
While the debate over the removal of the "Working Definition" will go on, it is especially distressing that Mira Bar- Hillel, the Israeli-born Independent columnist in London who received her doctorate in philosophy from the Hebrew University, rushed to praise the removal of the Working Definition. 

Her argument is ill-informed. As noted, the "Working Definition" has never prevented criticism of Israeli policy, including the current action of the EU to boycott Israeli settlement policies.   It did prevent, however, the long-term project of vilification and demonization of Israel.  For instance, a recent all European poll found that some 60 percent believe that Israel is waging a genocidal war against Palestinians.  This and other statistics are included in the 2013 book by Manfred Gerstenfeld Demonizing Israel and the Jews.
Bar Hillel should read Gerstenfeld's book to understand that the removal of the "Working Definition" will deepen the delegitimization of Israel.

European Forum on Antisemitism
Leipziger Platz 15, Mosse Palais
10117 Berlin, Germany
Tel.: +49 (030) 22 65 94-0


The purpose of this docu'ment is to provide a practical guide for identifying incidents, collecting data, and supporting the implementation and enforcement of legislation dealing with antisemitism.

Working definition: “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.”

In addition, such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.

Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.

  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.

  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.

  • Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).

  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.

  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context could include:

  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.

  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.

Antisemitic acts are criminal when they are so defined by law (for example, denial of the Holocaust or distribution of antisemitic materials in some countries).

Criminal acts are antisemitic when the targets of attacks, whether they are people or property – such as buildings, schools, places of worship and cemeteries – are selected because they are, or are perceived to be, Jewish or linked to Jews.

Antisemitic discrimination is the denial to Jews of opportunities or services available to others and is illegal in many countries.



CIF Watch, a CAMERA affiliate

OCT 31, 2013

In praise of the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism

In 2005, following several years which saw a disturbing rise in antisemitic violence across Europe, the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) reached a Working Definition of Antisemitism.  Later in the year, the Working Definition of Antisemitism was prominently referenced at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Cordoba Conference.  And, since then, many other bodies have advocated its usage. The one-page Working Definition of Antisemitism (below) evolved as a result of the efforts of a large number of European institutions and human rights experts. 

The stated goal of the Working Definition of Antisemitism was to provide a guide (to EU members states) for identifying incidents, collecting data and supporting the implementation and enforcement of legislation dealing with antisemitism.

Here it is:

Recently, a commentator who has expressed sympathy for antisemites, and routinely calls for the end of the Jewish state, used his platform at a site notable for endorsing terrorism and equating Zionism to Nazism, to falsely characterize the Working Definition of Antisemitism as “an abandoned draft text.”

Whilst it is narrowly true that the website of Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), the successor to the EUMC, doesn’t include the text of the Working Definition of Antisemitism – due to the fact that its mandate differs from EUMC – here are the facts:

  • The State Department report on Global Antisemitism in 2008 included the following:  The EUMC’s working definition provides a useful framework for identifying and understanding the problem and is adopted for the purposes of this report
  • The Working Definition of Antisemitism was cited by the US State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism in testimony given to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (in Helsinki) in 2011, and is currently endorsed on the State Department’s ‘Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism’ page.
  • In 2010, the UK All-Party Inquiry into antisemitism recommended that the Working Definition of Antisemitism should be adopted and promoted by the Government and law enforcement agencies.
  • An official doc'ument published by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) recommends the Working Definition of Antisemitism as a valuable hate crime data collection tool for law enforcement agencies, and for educators.

Though most manifestations of antisemitism included in the Working Definition of Antisemitism shouldn’t even need to be pointed out (such as ‘calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion’), many who oppose it do so for the following reasons:

1) It defines as antisemitic the equating of Zionism with Nazism.

2) It defines as antisemitic calls for the end of the Jewish state.

It is of course no coincidence that this recent attack on the Working Definition of Antisemitism was leveled by a commentator who continually promotes the second charge at a site which has endorsed the first.

Yet, despite the protests from a few marginal, extremist voices, the Working Definition continues to represent a widely respected, useful tool for understanding modern manifestations of antisemitism, and this blog will continue to use it in our continuing fight against such racism at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’.


Beware! Global Jew-Hatred Rising

by Jerry Gordon (September 2013)

Demonizing Israel and the Jews
By Manfred Gerstenfeld
RVP Press  ISBN 978-1-61861-336-3

A new book, Demonizing Israel and Jews, elucidates anti-Semitism which originated over 2,000 years ago in ancient Egypt. The earliest known instance is a different version Exodus story told by an Egyptian priest named Manetho in the Third Century BCE, who reverses the Biblical Exodus account and instead depicts the Jews being ejected as “unclean people.” A pogrom against Jews in Alexandria was witnessed by Philo in the First Century CE. That strain of violent anti-Semitism subsequently found fertile ground in both Christianity and Islam. Both doctrines accused Jews of deicide and blood libel. The Prophet Mohammed taught the rejection of Jews for their not seeing the merits in his status as prophet nor in his doctrine of jihad. In Medieval Europe violent anti-Semitism led to episodic pogroms, expulsions, and  formation of ghettos. Even in Nineteenth Century Europe, Socialists opposed Jews for their religious and later national Zionism that raised in Germany the Juden Frage, the question of dual loyalties. In France, anti-Semitic elements of the French General Staff connived to pin the charge of treason on Jewish Capt. Henri Dreyfus. He was disgraced by being publicly stripped of his rank and his saber broken on the Champs de Mars to screams of “death to the Jews.” The creation by the Czarist secret police of the forgery The Protocols of Elders of Zion only provided fodder for anti-Semites in Russia to perpetrate pogroms by the Black Hundreds in Kishinev in 1903. The Protocols also had a brief foliation in the US and became an underlying theme of world Jewish control in Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Hitlerian doctrine was adopted by the Muslim Brotherhood, whose founder, Hassan al Banna, was an early devotee of Nazi Jew hatred. The theme of ancient blood libel was evident in the Al Dura video hoax at the start of the Second Intifada in 2000. That gave rise to accusations by Palestinian Arabs and even the late Usama bin Laden that Israelis and Jews were “child killers.”  Blood libels and World Jewish control are standard fare today for video serials on Arab TV during the month long observances of Ramadan.

Demonizing Israel and the Jews, authored by Manfred Gerstenfeld, published by the RVP Press with support from Simon Wiesenthal Center, analyzes the rise of anti-Israelism as the Twenty-first Century version of global Jew hatred. Gerstenfeld, former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and current member of its board, knew anti-Semitism firsthand as a hidden child survivor of the Shoah in Holland during World War Two. See our interview with Gerstenfeld in this edition of the New English Review.  

Rabbi Hier of the SWC noted in the book’s foreword:

Anti-Semitism driven by hatred of the Jewish State too often goes unrecognized and unchallenged by European leaders, intellectuals, and the media. That is why this collection of essays is so important.

Demonizing Israel and the Jews is a concise, encyclopedic compendium of 57 interviews with various experts  on  the religious, ethnic/nationalistic themes that undergird hatred of Israel - hatred emanating from  Palestinian and Islamic organizations and media.  But also it derives from anti-Israel positions of international  mainstream Christian NGOs and churches, European extremist left and neo-fascist political parties, biased  Western media, academia and even self-hating Jews.

Gerstenfeld has put forward the stunning estimate of 150 million Europeans who dislike Israel and Jews. This figure is based on survey responses to questions about Israel’s alleged genocidal behavior towards Palestinian Arabs conducted  in major EU member countries. According to the data and methodology he used, on average nearly 40% of respondents agreed that Israel was conducting genocidal warfare against Palestinians. In Poland the aggregate response to that question was over 63%. This despite that Jewish presence in Poland had been vastly diminished after the Holocaust from a prewar community of over three million to less than 6,000 currently.

In his introductory essay based on the book’s title, Gerstenfeld articulates the background for his disclosure about pervasive hatred towards Israel and Jews. He illustrates this latest mutation of traditional Jew hatred exemplified by the parliamentary presence of the Hungarian Jobbik, neo-fascist and anti-Semitic party, the third largest. In Greece there is the Golden Dawn, a political party with a  neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim agenda. He doesn’t absolve radical right wing parties, save the Freedom Party in The Netherlands that while pro-Israel heedlessly opposes Jewish ritual slaughter, Shechita. 

Gerstenfeld is acutely aware of what he deems non-selective Muslim immigration to Europe that has resulted in inflaming Jew hatred. He notes the murders of French Jews committed by Muslims in France chronicled by Nidra Poller, a  New English Review contributor. He has particularly disdain for Scandinavian, Labor Party figures in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, who have fostered Anti-Israelism and intimidation of their Jewish communities.  Intimidation brought about by tolerance of Muslim émigré anti-Semitic hatred. The most flagrant example is the Swedish City of Malmo that Gerstenfeld considers “the capital of European anti-Semitism.“ He derides the anti-Semitic statements by Malmo’s Mayor, Ilmar Reepalu. A US State Department expert on world anti-Semitism has called such attitudes “anti-Israel sentiment serv[ing] as a guise for Jew hatred.”

Gerstenfeld also identifies the underlying hate motifs of anti-Israelism that he considers a 21st Century mutation of classic religious and ethnic/nationalistic anti-Semitism. Consider the assertion that Israel doesn’t comport itself as a democracy given its “treatment” of Palestinian Arabs resulting in moral inversion: Israel is the new Nazi state. That sentiment was reflected in a poll of 2,500 Germans conducted by the University of Bielefeld where 51% agreed with a statement that treatment of Palestinians was no different than what the Nazis did to Jews during the Third Reich. A report by the Center for Studies of the Holocaust and Religious Minorities in Norway had a response to a similar question of 38%.

The “very negative picture” of Israel is also portrayed in surveys of leading countries regarding threats to world peace.  Israel received the most approbation as a world threat by fully 59% who responded in a 2003 Eurobarometer survey. A 2013 BBC country ratings poll showed Israel has having a 52% negative influence compared to Iran’s 59%.

The SWC ranking of top slurs against Israel puts the Muslim Brotherhood first, followed by the Iranian Islamic regime. However, the SWC ranking of anti-Semitic/anti-Israel slurs has six out of the top ten that originate from Europe.

Gerstenfeld denotes the conjunction of traditional anti-Semitic and anti-Israel themes such as “absolute evil,” or in other words, deicide, “vermin and bacteria” an allusion to extermination, “inferior beings,” the Qur’anic declaration that Jews are no better than animals along with “sons of apes and pigs,” and that Israel is a “Nazi state.” He notes sub motifs and the artless use of verbal demonization through lies, accusations, exaggerations and fallacies. One of more significant categories is what Gerstenfeld has coined, “humanitarian racism.” He defines this as:

Attributing intrinsically reduced responsibility to people of certain ethnic or national groups regarding their criminal acts and intentions, even if they are major.

Thus, as he notes:

Israelis are blamed for whatever measures they take to defend themselves. Palestinian responsibility for suicide bombings, murderous missile attacks, glorification of murderers of civilians, and promoting genocide is reduced, at best.

The ultimate expression of this demonization of Israel Gerstenfeld believes can be found in the International Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. This campaign is promoted by the Palestinians and left academics in both Israel and the West. This “cocktail of hate” as he calls it can also be found in anti-Israel declarations at the UN and the EU, such as the recent attempt by the latter  to deny funding of programs in Israel  located across the Green Line in Judea and Samaria, the disputed territories.

The perpetrators Gerstenfeld identifies are first and foremost Islamic extremists such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic regime in Iran, with its espousal of Holocaust denial and intention to wipe Israel off the map of the World via its nuclear threat. Next in line are Muslim extremists preachers in the West inflaming immigrants with Qur’anic imperatives of “death to the Jews.”

Gerstenfeld is concerned about Israel organizing itself to combat anti-Israelism. He notes that while Israel has fought many brilliant military campaigns and developed a highly respected cyber warfare capability, it has failed in the media war. He urges the Jewish nation to become better trained in getting equally brilliantly conceived positive messaging  to combat anti-Israelism.

We have selected from among the 57 interviews in Demonizing Israel and the Jews illustrations of virulent anti-Israelism prevalent in European and global anti-Semitism.

Professor Pieter van der Horst former Professor of Jewish studies at Utrecht University and Member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences on Ancient Egyptian origins of anti-Semtism:

The initial indication of a negative attitude towards Jews is found at the beginning of the Third century BCE in the writings of a Greek-speaking Priest called Manetho. Manetho turns the story of the Exodus upside down. In Manetho’s anti-biblical history, it is an expulsion of the Jews from Egypt at the command of the Egyptian gods, because their country had to be purified of an unclean people.

Dr. Els Borst-Eilers, former Minister for Public Health and Deputy Prime Minister in the Netherlands on  why Holland should apologize to the Jewish community:

If I had been prime minister, I would have offered apologies to the Dutch Jewish community without hesitation. This would refer both to our government’s attitude during the Second World War and to the very late postwar discovery that the restitution process had been poorly conceived.

Former EU Commissioner, Dutch political figure and public intellectual Frits Bolkestein on the bleak future for Europe’s Jews given unchecked Muslim immigration:

“Jews have to realize that there is no future for them in the Netherlands and they best advise their children to leave for the United States or Israel.” He foresaw problems in the Netherlands resulting from the unsuccessful integration of Muslim immigrants and the difficulties for “observant” Jews.

Andrei S. Markovits, Professor of Comparative Politics and German Studies at the University of Michigan on the convergence of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism:

Anti-Semitism in Europe goes back a thousand years. Anti-Americanism emerged more than 200 years ago among European Elites. America and Jews are seen by many Europeans as paragons of modernity they dislike and distrust... Anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism are the only major icons shared by European extreme Left and Right, including neo-Nazis.

David R. Parsons is media director for the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem on Christian friends and foes:

The Holocaust brought about a major change in thinking about the Jewish people in many Christian circles. It was a huge moral shock that in the heart of Christian Europe, genocide had taken place that aimed to annihilate the Jews. . . Many would still have said: “The Shoah is yet one more example that Jews are forever cursed.”

Dexter Van Zile is Christian Media Analyst for the Committee on Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA) and a  New English Review contributor  on the Anti-Israel Policies of the World Council of Churches:

The World Council of Churches, an umbrella organization [of] 349 Protestant and Orthodox churches founded in 1948, has been largely hostile to Israel, particularly during times of conflict. WCC institutions demonize Israel, use a double standard to assess its actions and . . .delegitimize the Jewish state. They have also persistently denied the intents of Israel’s adversaries to deprive the Jewish people of their right to a sovereign state.

Professor Hans Jansen, author of Christian Theology after Auschwitz on The Kairos Doc'ument and Israel:

One important occasion. . .was at the debate concerning . . . the Kairos Docu'ment. It was published in 2009 by Palestinian Christians. The central argument of the Kairos docu'ment is that only Israel is responsible for the problems of the region. .. The Kairos do'cument is based on the so-called replacement theology which teaches that God’s promise to the Jews has been passed on to the Christians. Kairos debate proves that when hatred of Judaism is propagated by Christians, there is also Christian opposition.

Kenneth Levin is a psychiatrist, historian and author of The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People under Siege and a clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School on the psychology of Jews who embrace their enemies:

A number of Jews and Israelis embrace criticism coming from anti-Semites and extreme anti-Israelis. . . In the last sixty years, the American Jewish community at large has energetically embraced support for Israel. This has been made easier by the fact that the wider American public has traditionally been sympathetic towards the Jewish State. Those segments of the Jewish community who live and work in environments hostile to Israel, commonly embrace the anti-Israel bias around them. They often insist they are virtuous by doing so.

Elhanan Yakira, Schulman Professor of Philosophy at Hebrew University in Jerusalem on Holocaust denial and Jewish anti-Zionists:

The self appointed Israeli true Left takes positions that are commonly referred to as post-Zionist. They are in fact anti-Zionist. This ideology refuses to grant the Jewish people the right of self determination and thus Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. This means that it also denies that Israel can be both Jewish and democratic. Leading intellectuals, both Jewish and non-Jewish play a major role in this new mutation of anti-Semitism.

Andrea Levin, executive director of Boston-Based CAMERA on fighting distorted media coverage of Israel:

Media coverage of the Middle East is often distorted. There are no enforceable codes of professional conduct which apply to the media. One can thus obtain change only in two ways. One is through private appeals for accuracy, balance and fair play. The other is through public exposure of journalistic misconduct.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles on anti-Semitism and terrorism on the Internet:

The explosive rise in Internet usage in the present century has brought with it a new way of transmitting a wide range of classic anti-Semitic images and messages. Terrorist, racist, bigoted, and anti-Semitic sites have emerged in large numbers and are often linked to each other.  The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Digital terrorism and Hate Project . . .currently monitors over 15,000 hate and terror related sites.

Ronald Eissens is general director and cofounder of the Dutch NGO Magenta foundation and co-founder of the International Network Against Cyber Hate (INACH):

INACH fights discrimination and other forms of cyber hate on an international level. The network has 20 member organizations from 19 countries. There are major problems with Facebook concerning hate postings. . . . In a difficult conversation we had with the European director of Facebook he said: “We remove most of the postings on Holocaust denial.” We said: “You should remove all of them.“ He replied: “There is also Holocaust denial which is not considered hatred.” We laughed in his face and said, “The essence of Holocaust denial is anti-Semitism.” Finally he said: “I’m sorry, but these are the instructions from my American Boss Mr. Zuckerberg.”

Nidra Poller, American ex-pat and Paris-based contributor to the New English Review on French anti-Israel bias:

The left wing, Third world-ist, anti-Zionist bias has spread throughout the free world. It is fueled by ill-concealed personal convictions of journalists, and with rare exceptions, their lack of integrity. The sustained support  [by French journalism] for Charles Enderlin, 12 years after he produced the hoax that Palestinian youth Mohammed al-Dura was killed in front of the camera, allegedly by the IDF is a significant indication of the dire consequences of unscrupulous journalism.

Wim Kortenoeven, a Dutch former Parliamentarian with the PVV (Freedom Party) exposes Israel’s Dutch enemies:

Many Dutch media outlets have a negative influence on Israel’s image: sensationalism and Arab manipulation of the media vis a vis the openness of Israeli society. Political parties have a growing interest in the views of the Muslim minority, which now represents one million people among the sixteen million-plus general population. In the Labor Party, the situation is very bad.  A variety of its officials are Muslim. Muslims are in control of various local branches. The extreme Left Socialist Party and Green Left Party are even more dangerous for Israel. Many influential members see an ideological bond between international socialism and Islamism.

Ilya Meyer, vice chair of the Sweden-Israel Friendship Association on Swedish politicians against Israel:

Foreign Minister Carl Bildt who belongs to the moderates (Conservatives), the coalition’s largest party, has exhibited a consistent rabid anti-Israel position. Bildt often serves the interests of Arab and other Muslim countries. Gunilla Carlsson, minister for international development and cooperation, claimed that “Israel destroys EU-funded Palestinian infrastructure.” Carlsson’s approach …whatever the Arabs do, Israel’s foremost obligation is to protect Palestinians from the consequences of their own criminal actions. The Labor Party’s gray eminence Pierre Schori was a protégé of Israel bashing Prime Minister Olaf Palme.

Hanne Nabintu Herland is a Norwegian academic, historian of religion and author of Respect:

The current Labor/radical Left Norwegian government is promoting an extreme one-sided and negative distance toward Israel. It is responsible for creating a politically–correct hatred of Israel among many people in the country. This has made Norway, in my view, the most anti-Semitic country in the West.

Demonizing Israel and the Jews issues an emphatic warning to the World that anti-Israelism is pervasive across the political spectrum in Europe. Intimidated by the burgeoning Muslim presence there it has vaulted global Jew-hatred to a level of concern unimagined just a few years ago.

Also see Jerry Gordon's collection of interviews, The West Speaks.

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