Simon Wiesenthal Center Urges US Department of Education to Adopt the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism to Combat Campus Hate Against Jews

August 29, 2022

Seeking to combat rising anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism on America's college campuses, high schools and elementary schools, Eric J. Greenberg, Simon Wiesenthal Center's Director of United Nations Relations & Strategic Partnerships urged the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR) to quickly adopt  the "Working Definition of Antisemitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance," commonly known as IHRA. 


Speaking with top federal education and civil rights officials, including DOE’s Deputy Assistant Secretary, Monique Dixon, Greenberg joined leaders of other major Jewish organizations to express deep concern over the increasing dangers to Jewish students in colleges across the United States who publicly express their Judaism or love of Israel. 

"At a time when the impact of anti-Semites and conspiracy theorists are being felt by many of our students in college, it is imperative to have the means to fight back," Greenberg  told the civil rights officials. "The IHRA working definition of Antisemitism is a necessary tool against the surge of hatred of Jews and Israel."


As part of DOE's commitment to addressing racial and national origin discrimination, its Office of Civil Rights has been holding a series of meetings to discuss discrimination and harassment against Jewish students in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 


The Jewish organizations, including the Jewish Federations of North America, Hadassah, Orthodox Union, Emet, Zioness, Stand with Us, AEPi and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, all gave searing examples of the insidious and harmful effects this growing anti-Semitism is having on Jewish co-eds, and provided practical recommendations on how to neutralize the haters. Following these listening sessions, OCR is expected to take action by the end of the year.


The Simon Wiesenthal Center has a strong history with the IHRA definition. It is considered one of the architects of the IHRA definition and one of the principal agencies in shaping and introducing it. So far, IHRA has been adopted by the US State Department and 31 countries around the world as well as many other agencies.  

SWC was also one of the key contributors towards a handbook published last year for the practical use of IHRA. This document was commissioned by the European Commission and published jointly with support from the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The handbook provides an overview of good practices by international organizations, national administrations, civil society, and Jewish communities from across Europe. The 35 pages list practices ranging from training for law enforcement to incident recording and reporting. The handbook also includes 22 sourced incidents of antisemitism in Europe that highlight the relevance of IHRA when assessing manifestations of anti-Semitism.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

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