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Four Rights Monitors Saluted for Condemning “Zionism-is-Racism” Slur

(Washington, D.C., Jan. 27, 2022)—B’nai B’rith President Seth Riklin and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:

B’nai B’rith International welcomes United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s reference, in an address on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, to a “common definition” of anti-Jewish hatred. He quoted from a critical working definition of anti-Semitism that encompasses prevalent contemporary forms of the scourge—including the delegitimization and demonization of Israel.

The working definition—which has become the consensus one among multiple democracies, experts on anti-Semitism and Jewish communities most engaged in facing it—is that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), an intergovernmental body.

The remarks come the day after several U.N.-affiliated experts in Geneva issued a landmark statement rejecting the calling into question of Israel’s legitimacy.

On Jan. 26, four U.N.-affiliated rights monitors in Geneva—Ahmed Shaheed, special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; Alexandra Xanthaki, special rapporteur in the field of cultural rights; Morris Tidball-Binz, special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and Fernand de Varennes RP, special rapporteur on minority issues—cited the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism and condemned “assertions that Zionism, the self-determination movement of the Jewish people, is an inherently racist ideology and a form of racial supremacy.”

Noting “antisemitic diatribes” even in U.N. settings, they said: “Not only is this narrative false; it has also shown to fuel resentment against Jews and normalise bias against Jewish communities worldwide.”

B’nai B’rith, which has directly encouraged the U.N. chief to further build upon his personal efforts against anti-Semitism, urges him to formally endorse and apply the IHRA working definition. This embrace of a concrete, comprehensive and up-to-date definition of anti-Semitism would be essential at a time when the animus has persisted and even spread, including in violent forms, around the world. In several countries, Jews are the leading target of faith-based hate crimes, and anti-Semitic incitement is widespread both online and otherwise.

B’nai B’rith’s own annual U.N. Holocaust remembrance event on Jan. 24 featured the secretary-general of IHRA and several high-level figures, including the vice president of the European Commission, who urged utilization of her group’s anti-Semitism definition.

The program, viewable online here, saw new German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock affirm Israel’s security as a “reason of state” for her country, which she said fights “unfounded criticism and hate against Israel.” For his part, days after a hostage-taking at a synagogue in Texas, United States Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas—himself the descendant of Holocaust-era refugees—starkly warned that the Holocaust could recur anywhere.

Before the U.N. General Assembly’s passage of an important resolution last week embracing another IHRA working definition—that of Holocaust-denial and distortion—B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin and U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs Director David J. Michaels wrote in an op-ed in Newsweek, “We hope member states will join in adopting… an equally vital working definition of antisemitism.”

On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, we commend those defenders of universal human rights standing firmly against anti-Semitism not only in the past but also in the present.

B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit