104 Israeli and international groups call on UN to reject IHRA ‘definition’ of antisemitism

Media tune starts to change on the supposed ‘international’ definition as coalition civic organisations tell UN that it will put its own staff at risk if they approve right-wingers’ favourite tool to suppress pro-Palestinian speech

Image taken from original by Leif Jørgensen, Creative Commons

A coalition of 104 civic society groups from an array of nations – including Israel – have written publicly to the United Nations calling on the organisation not to adopt the so-called ‘IHRA working definition of antisemitism’ (shorthand IHRA). The groups point out that the ‘definition’ is badly written and is used to suppress criticism of Israel and support for Palestinian human rights.

The Guardian, which was as bad as any UK media for supporting the supposed universality of the IHRA – which in fact is used by only a small minority of countries and has been criticised even by Kenneth Stern, who authored it, for its chilling effect on free speech, and by leading UK Jewish legal experts such as retired judge Stephen Sedley and human rights and equality lawyer Geoffrey Bindman as unfit and not actually defining anything. But interestingly, the paper on Monday called the IHRA the ‘controversial’ definition.

The IHRA ‘definition’ and the lie about its global acceptance were, of course, used as one of the key weapons to bring down Jeremy Corbyn and, subsequently, to drive his supporters out of the Labour party, but was condemned from the start by left voices, including the Jewish left, because of its evident unfitness, lack of clarity and its toxicity for the rights of oppressed Palestinians – exactly the qualities, critics would say, that make it attractive to its right-wing advocates. Blunter critics describe it and the smears it underpinned simple as a ‘scam’.

The document was one of the pillars of the widespread weaponisation of antisemitism by the Establishment, including the Labour right, to attack Corbyn and the left – a weaponisation that Martin Forde, the barrister reluctantly commissioned by Keir Starmer to investigate the issue in the party after the leak of a Labour report on rampant racism, sabotage, rigging, fraud and abuse among right-wing Labour staffers, confirmed in his report. Forde recently said that the Starmer regime was effectively ignoring and burying his findings. So scared is the Labour regime of the facts that it bans even a discussion of the IHRA among members.

The full text of the letter and its list of signatories is below this site’s usual footer information.

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Dear UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Under Secretary-General Miguel Ángel Moratinos:

Our coalition of 104 civil society organizations is writing to you to voice our strong support for the United Nations’ commitment to combatting antisemitism in line with international human rights standards. Antisemitism is a pernicious ideology that poses real harm to Jewish communities around the world and requires meaningful action to combat it. Our organizations call on world leaders to condemn antisemitism and to take steps to protect Jewish communities, including holding perpetrators of hate crimes accountable.

As the UN develops its own action plan towards a coordinated and enhanced response to antisemitism rooted in human rights, we are aware that a number of Member State governments and organizations aligned with some of those governments, as well as the former Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Ahmed Shaheed, have been advocating that the UN adopt and use the “working definition of antisemitism” of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). We urge the UN not to do so.

The IHRA definition was originally developed to guide research and law enforcement data validation before being used by the IHRA in its work, which includes education about the Holocaust and antisemitism. Adoption of the definition by governments and institutions is often framed as an essential step in efforts to combat antisemitism. In practice, however, the IHRA definition has often been used to wrongly label criticism of Israel as antisemitic, and thus chill and sometimes suppress, non-violent protest, activism and speech critical of Israel and/or Zionism, including in the US and Europe. Such misuse has also been criticized by the former Special Rapporteur on Racism E. Tendayi Achiume.

Ken Stern, the main drafter of the IHRA definition, recently reiterated his concerns about the institutional adoption of the definition in light of its proposed inclusion in an American Bar Association (ABA) draft resolution on antisemitism. Stern’s concern stems from the IHRA definition’s repeated use as “a blunt instrument to label anyone an antisemite.” In the end, ABA members adopted a resolution on antisemitism that did not reference the IHRA definition. Stern’s message to ABA applies equally to the UN.

Those who use the IHRA definition in this way tend to rely on a set of eleven “contemporary examples of antisemitism” attached to the definition by the IHRA in 2016. Seven of those examples refer to the state of Israel. These examples, which are presented as possible illustrations and indicators to “guide the IHRA in its work”, 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 endeavour” and
  • “applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

The wording of the first example above on “racist endeavour” opens the door to labeling as antisemitic criticisms that Israeli government policies and practices violate the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the findings of major Israeli, Palestinian and global human rights organizations that Israeli authorities are committing the crime against humanity of apartheid against Palestinians. This example could also be used to label as antisemitic documentation showing that Israel’s founding involved dispossessing many Palestinians; or arguments, also made by some Members of the Israeli Knesset, to transform Israel from a Jewish state into a multiethnic state that equally belongs to all of its citizens – that is, a state based on civic identity, rather than ethnic identity.

The example on “applying double standards” opens the door to labeling as antisemitic anyone who focuses on Israeli abuses as long as worse abuses are deemed to be occurring elsewhere. By that logic, a person dedicated to defending the rights of Tibetans could be accused of anti-Chinese racism, or a group dedicated to promoting democracy and minority rights in Saudi Arabia could be accused of Islamophobia. This example suggests also that it is antisemitic to evaluate Israel as anything but a democracy, also when assessing its actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, where it has for more than half a century governed millions of Palestinians who have no say on the most consequential issues affecting their lives and who are deprived of their basic civil rights.

The IHRA qualifies the examples by noting that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic” and that any finding of antisemitism must “[take] into account the overall context.” However, in practice, these disclaimers have failed to prevent the politically motivated instrumentalization of the IHRA definition in efforts to muzzle legitimate speech and activism by critics of Israel’s human rights record and advocates for Palestinian rights.

The targets of accusations of antisemitism based on the IHRA definition have included university students and professors, grassroots organizers, human rights and civil rights organizations, humanitarian groups and members of the US Congress, who either document or criticize Israeli policies and who speak in favor of Palestinian human rights. If the UN endorses the IHRA definition in any shape or form, UN officials working on issues related to Israel and Palestine may find themselves unjustly accused of antisemitism based on the IHRA definition. The same goes for numerous UN agencies, departments, committees, panels and/or conferences, whose work touches on issues related to Israel and Palestine, as well as for civil society actors and human rights defenders engaging with the UN system.

After the United Kingdom’s government adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism at the national level, at least two UK universities in 2017 banned certain activities planned for “Israel Apartheid Week.” One of them, the University of Central Lancashire, banned a panel planned by Friends of Palestine on boycotts of Israel. A university spokesperson stated, “We believe the proposed talk contravenes the [IHRA] definition” of antisemitism “formally adopted” by the government.

In February 2020, Israel advocacy groups in the US challenged Pitzer and Pomona College’s support for a film screening about Palestinian protests in Gaza against Israeli repression and a panel on “Perspectives on Colleges and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” featuring the prominent Jewish commentator Peter Beinart and Palestinian-American Yousef Munayyer, hosted by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The Israel advocacy groups claimed that SJP’s positions, such as its support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, are “clear indicators of anti-Semitism under the examples listed by the IHRA.” In January 2020, Israel advocacy groups called for the University of Michigan to review the agenda for a “Youth for Palestine” conference focused on student activism and community organizing on Palestine, and to “compare it to the IHRA definition,” and consider canceling it over concerns that it will feed antisemitism.

Some advocates of the IHRA working definition have presented it as a non-controversial “consensus definition”. However, many leading antisemitism experts, scholars of Jewish studies and the Holocaust, as well as free speech and anti-racism experts, have challenged the definition, arguing that it restricts legitimate criticism of Israel and harms the fight against antisemitism.

Since 2021, at least two alternative definitions have been put forward: the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism by hundreds of scholars of antisemitism, Holocaust studies, Jewish studies and Middle East studies, as well as the Nexus Document by a task force affiliated with Bard College and the University of Southern California. While acknowledging that criticism of Israel can be antisemitic, these alternative definitions set out more clearly what constitutes antisemitism and provide guidance surrounding the contours of legitimate speech and action around Israel and Palestine.

As an international organization committed to the universal promotion of the rule of law and human rights, the UN should ensure that its vital efforts to combat antisemitism do not inadvertently embolden or endorse policies and laws that undermine fundamental human rights, including the right to speak and organize in support of Palestinian rights and to criticize Israeli government policies.

For these reasons, we strongly urge the UN not to endorse the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

We look forward to assisting the UN’s efforts to combat antisemitism in a way that respects, protects and promotes human rights.


Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel*

Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights

Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Mankind

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

Amnesty International*


Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement

Human Rights Watch

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

Ligue des droits de l’Homme (LDH)

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel

Joined by:


7amleh – The Arab Center for Social Media Advancement

A Different Jewish Voice (Netherlands)*

Academia for Equality*

Africa4Palestine (AFP)

American Friends Service Committee

American Humanist Association*

American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)*

Americans for Peace Now*

Arab Canadian Lawyers Association*

Association “Pour Jérusalem”

Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine (AUDRIP)

Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS)

BDS Netherlands

Belgian Academics & Artists for Palestine (BAA4P)

Bisan Center for Research and Development*

Breaking the Silence*

British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES)*

Broederlijk Delen

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)*

Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)*

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

Catholics for Justice and Peace in the Holy Land (CJPHL)*

CCFD-Terre Solidaire

Charity & Security Network*



Collectif Judéo Arabe et Citoyen pour la Palestine (CJACP)

Combatants for Peace

Comhlamh Justice for Palestine

Defending Rights & Dissent*

Defense for Children International – Palestine

Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN)

EuroMed Rights*

European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP)*

European Jews for a Just Peace

European Legal Support Center (ELSC)

European Middle East Project (EuMEP)

Finnish-Arab Friendship Society

Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP)*

Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)*

gate48 – critical Israelis in the Netherlands*

Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ

Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church

Human Rights Defenders Fund (HRDF)*


Independent Australian Jewish Voices (IAJV)*

Independent Jewish Voices Canada

International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)*

Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC)*

Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (Finland)

Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (UK)

Jahalin Solidarity*

Jewish Network for Palestine (UK)

Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East (Germany)

Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL)*

Jewish Voice for Peace – Twin Cities*

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)*

Jews against the Occupation Australia*

Jews for Palestine-Ireland

Just Peace Advocates/Mouvement Pour Une Paix Juste*

Kairos Ireland

La Cimade (France)

Law for Palestine*

Le Comité de Vigilance pour une Paix Réelle au Proche-Orient (CVPR PO)

Medico international

Mennonite Church Canada Palestine-Israel Network*

Middle East Peace Now*

Minnesota BDS Community*

Mouvement de la paix France

Nederlands Palestina Komitee

One Justice

Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK*

Palestinian NGOs Network (PNGO)

Parents Against Child Detention (PACD)

Pax Christi USA

Plateforme des ONG françaises pour la Palestine

Presbyterian Church (USA)

Project South*

Promise Institute for Human Rights*

Sadaka – The Ireland-Palestine Alliance*

The Rights Forum

Trinity College Dublin BDS*

Tzedek Collective*

Une Autre Voix Juive (France)

Union Juive Française pour la Paix (UJFP)

United Jewish People’s Order of Canada

United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel (UNJPPI)*

University Network for Human Rights

Women Against Military Madness (WAMM)*

Women in Black (Vienna)


  1. The IHRA definition of antisemitism is deeply flawed as it enables pro Israeli elements to brand anyone who is critical of any aspect of Israeli behaviour an “antisemite”. This vile accusation is frequently levelled at Jewish people who believe that Palestinians are human beings with the same human rights as everyone else.
    One such individual was the late Hajo Mayer a holocaust survivor and internationally renouned peace activist who lost both his parents and other family members in concentration camps. He was appalled by what he witnessed on a visit to Israel and said it reminded him of what he saw in Germany in the run up to the War.
    After he died ( and therefore could neither defend himself nor sue for slander) the IHRA allowed him to be denounced as an antisemite by cowards who did not dare to face him when he was alive. He is only one of thousands of Jews who have been vilified in this way by those want to cover up Israel’s crimes.
    If the IHRA’s definition is adopted by the UN then the vicious reputational attacks on anyone who supports Palestinian human rights will become as common in the rest of world as they are in Starmers Labour – it will be a sad day for us all.

    1. When is anyone from our so called independent media, going to ask Starmer why he has suspended and expelled so many Jews from the Labour Party? Could it be that they do not want the public to know that Jewish Socialists are some of apartheid Israel’s strongest critics, and in Starmer’s LP, Socialism and democracy have been outlawed in favour of Zionism?

      1. Reply to Jack
        The MSM won’t be honest about Starmers purge of antiZionist Jews and Socialists. This emboldens Starmer to destroy the lives and reputations of decent people who believe in human rights for all and justice for Palestinians.
        However I believe he will eventually go to far – just like the accusers did in the Salem Witch Hunts of the 17th Century- and then he will be outted as the Zionist zealot and bigot that he is.
        I know my comment begs the question “how far is too far” given how far he has gone to date – I can’t answer that but i do believe/hope his hard line Zionism will in time lead to his downfall.

  2. However this ends, future historians will cite the adoption of ‘contr4oversial’ IHRA definition as the harmful substance that poisoned the Labour party.

    Whether this history will be an analysis of the cause of death or as an explanation of Labour’s temporary dysfunction as a democratic socialist organism, an illness, is not yet known.

    It’s down to both the ‘dearly departed’ and current membership, and whether they are capable of inducing neutralizing antibodies or antitoxins to this harmful toxin-like definition.

    Solidarity with this drive to de-weaponise ‘anti-Semitism’ as imposed by the RW in Labour.

    1. For clarification, the distressing physical condition caused by IHRA, which is the illness, but merely a symptom. The illness is centrist neoliberalism. ‘Third-way’ Trilateral-ism is the infection. Sadly, the current alleged-Leader and Milliband, Brown and Blair before him are the infectious agents….

      Masks, social isolation and lock-downs are the last things we need.

  3. ‘internationally recognised’

    Strictly speaking, that description could apply to anything that is supported by a minimum of two countries (out of almost 200).

    1. A mightily predictable, depressing overview by the BBC there g’bach. I’d like not to write off the Democrats yet, but yeah, Biden, his globalist backers and the MSM in US probably make that impossible.

      He might be no Bernie Sanders or Jeremy Corbyn, but maybe Robert F Kennedy Jr. is the best-hope the democratic left in US and here have got?

      “For years he has been telling harsh truths that many who profit from the lies do not want to hear. That our waters are polluted and the chemical companies are criminals; that the pharmaceutical companies are criminal enterprises polluting people’s bodies; that the CIA is organized crime polluting people’s minds and assassinating its anti-war leaders; that the Pentagon is a criminal enterprise not defending but risking American’s lives and their livelihood; that the U.S. government has joined with mega-corporations to run a Mob-like fleecing of the American people; that not one of Sirhan Sirhan’s bullets killed his father, Senator Robert Kennedy, who was shot from behind at close range by a CIA hit man; that the so-called Covid vaccines are very dangerous and have never been appropriately tested and many people are dying and being injured as a result; that Anthony Fauci is a liar and fraud who fronts for Big Pharma (see this) in the Covid-19 crisis that is an intelligence-run operation controlled by spooks working with medical technocrats; and that we are close to losing our country and any semblance of its democratic ideals.”

      1. qwertboi, I hope Kennedy runs, or is allowed to run. But I fear for his life if he does, the CIA crowd killed his Uncle and Father simply because both of them wanted peace in the World and not constant war.
        He is what the world needs right now, and for that reason I reckon he’ll be sidelined.

      2. They won’t let Kennedy run.
        All it took was for Tucker Carlson to get RFK Jr on his show for an interview and Fox sacked Carlson.

      3. “He might be no Bernie Sanders or Jeremy Corbyn, but maybe Robert F Kennedy Jr. is the best-hope the democratic left in US and here have got?”

        Do you mean this Robert Kennedy Jr ❓
        This week, Daily Kos won a stunning (albeit preliminary) victory in a California court over Nazi-cavorting anti-vaxxer Robert Kennedy Jr.

  4. Vexatious claims of Anti Semitism are hate crimes and should be prosecuted
    Why it hasn’t been tested, not least by JC is beyond me

      1. Have you noticed how much the MSM have been using the phrase “hierarchy of racism” all of a sudden in relation to Dianne Abbott ‘s latest gaffe?

        Given the support for Starmer that the MSM don’t even bother hiding anymore, it’s safe to say the Forde Report has touched a nerve on the quiet and instructions went out to “own” the phrase quick before any Socialists got in there first!

    1. Reply to Doug
      I think the point is that under the IHRA there is, in reality, no such thing as a vexatious antisemitism claim or complaint.
      People in the Labour Party generally enjoy freedom of speech except where Israel is concerned . The IHRA has seen to that which is why it was pushed so hard by the Friends of Israel .
      Today party members can complain on social media and at Labour meetings about the cost of the coronation, deplore the failures of the Prime Minister and the government, express disgust at the greed of double jobbing MPs. They can criticise bishops and Imans and point out the the foolishness of any public figure but if they express ONE WORD of criticism of Israel the party will be down on them like a ton of bricks at the behest Chief Rabbi, the BOD , the CAA, JLM etc . THe members concerned will then be drummed out of the party for antisemitism because of Labour’s adoption of the IHRA.
      If the UN accepts the IHRA definition this situation will be replicated throughout the member nations and no one anywhere will be able to say e.g. that the killing of an unarmed Palestinian who threw a stone at an Israeli soldier was disproportionate and wrong. The IHRA definition gives Israel leave to abuse and terrorise Palestinians as much as it likes and allows for critics of Israel’s excesses to be denounced as “antisemites”.

      1. Smartboy
        Star witness would be the author of IHRA definition
        Judges will see through the tenuous link with Zionism and Israel
        To double six the fuckers, cherry pick your target (Hodge) and victim (JC) are good examples
        Remember it’s a hate crime and therefore will be prosecuted by the state, therefore avoiding catastrophic legal costs

      2. “The IHRA definition gives Israel leave to abuse and terrorise Palestinians as much as it likes…”

        Yes, and its adoption also endorses the power behind the Zionists (what ever it is) as the force we need to identify, oppose and resist.

        The harm that zionism does to Palestine is dwarfed by the harm that this shady power could do to every democratic society on any subject the powerful people select.

        Zionism is a massive threat, but the opaque oligarchs and hidden power behind it are even bigger.

  5. On another matter, pay disputes, essential services could accept a No Strike deal in conjunction with automatic arbitration with minimum inflation rises
    Thats one for the Peace and Prosperity Labour Party not Starmers Stormtroopers

  6. It’s telling that under Corbyn the IHRA definitions were amended and expanded to make them fit for purpose. The smear merchants with the likes of Nuke Akehurst’s “We Believe in Israel” JLM and a host of bad faith actors, claimed it would water down the IHRA def and give cover to left wing antisemites. They fought to ensure the adoption of original def and viciously smeared those who supported the amended examples. We now see the folly of giving way to these serial supporters of Israeli human rights abuses and apartheid.

      1. Yes, I believe she was being disingenuous. Both at the time and now, 4 years later, I think she was simply saying that to attack Corbyn. If she wasn’t, might she add her name to the 104 organisations that want the UN to reject IHRA?

    1. SW ends his report with
      “Now the regime’s profligacy has dug an even deeper financial hole from which its next general election campaign will struggle to climb out. As happens regularly, his allies in the so-called ‘mainstream’ media are ignoring it.”

      The financial hole, reduced membership and pro-Establishment normalcy of current Labour means Starmer’s backers and the global capitalists they represent have a bill to pay.

      If he can’t get the affiliated unions to dig him out, and I doubt they can, or would want to, then the centrists will need global capitalist to step up and finance the Labour brand.

      Starmer-Labour would be dead the second this is recognised as happening – and, for me at least, Joy would be abundant (but tempered by anxiety).

      Exciting times…. for the dearly departed and the unaffiliated Labour movement. Looks like we’d need to find a modern Keir Hardie.

  7. Doug – Who are the Peace and Prosperity Party, do they actually exist
    Have they registered as a political party yet❓
    Is this just a name change from the original Corbyn led Peace and Justice Project but still led by Corbyn❓
    Or is this a group who having finally cottoned on that Jeremy isn’t going to stop dithering and prevaricating until it is too late have now out of desperation decided to do their own thing❓

    1. The very last thing ‘the left’ needs to do is create a new party. It needs to wait until Starmer finishes denaturing and disabling Labour.

      A new party that becomes a party of Power needs a movement of support behind it, so your questions and expectations – or maybe just your timing – are inappropriate. Labour’s denaturing and disabling itself right now – and that’s the ‘critical path’, as they say.

    2. Unlike keef, Jeremy bides his time. Costs less money in the long run 👍😉

      And why is everything so dependent on Corbyn leading an new party? Its only because YOU want it to be.

      Not too many’d be arsed if he stood as an independent rather than set up a party. It’s the tonking of smarmerist labour that matters most to non-smarmerists.

      And keefs’ just spunked a load more of YOUR subs on ANOTHER litigation fuck-up, legal nonce-protecting “nonpareil” that he is 😏

  8. The IHRA Definition is an overtly ‘RASCIST’ document, denying ‘Freedom of Speech’ as its integral message in defence of an apartheid state.

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