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Jewish Insider noted that B’nai B’rith and other leading American Jewish organizations sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to support the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

Read more in Jewish Insider.

A coalition of 17 U.S. Jewish groups wrote letters to House lawmakers this week expressing support for the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism and urging against endorsing any alternative definitions.

The letter comes as many major Jewish groups are lobbying Congress to pass legislation related to the issue and amid a countervailing expanded lobbying effort in favor of the Nexus Task Force’s definition, an alternative antisemitism definition written in response to the IHRA definition that leaves more room for criticism of Israel.

A similar behind-the-scenes battle played out between mainstream and progressive Jewish organizations as the administration was crafting its national strategy on antisemitism; ultimately the administration highlighted the IHRA definition while also speaking positively about the Nexus definition.

The letter highlights the widespread adoption of the IHRA definition and its utility in defining antisemitism in the post-Oct. 7 period. It argues that “clearly and accurately defining antisemitism is key to combating its manifestations.”

It strongly urges lawmakers against endorsing any alternative definition, arguing that doing so “would undo years of international cooperation and progress in identifying and combating antisemitism and would only create confusion and unequal standards,” “would break international consensus and undermine anti-discrimination efforts” and “would undermine efforts to protect Jewish communities.”

The letter notes that no alternative definition has received support from any other government entity in the world.

“We ask that you remain dedicated to this effort so that Congress will remain a leading voice in the fight against anti-Jewish hate, violence, and discrimination,” the letter reads.

The letter was signed by AIPAC, the American Jewish Committee, the American Zionist Movement, the Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith International, Combat Antisemitism Movement, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Elie Wiesel Foundation, Hadassah, the Israeli American Council, the Jewish Federations of North America, MERCAZ USA, the National Coalition supporting Eurasian Jewry, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, the Orthodox Union and Zioness.

Eric Fingerhut, the CEO of JFNA, told JI last month that an expanded lobbying effort for the Nexus definition — a new lobbying group was established last year led by a former top J Street lobbyist — had heightened the importance of JFNA’s efforts to support IHRA. The Jewish umbrella group organized a series of meetings between nationwide activists and lawmakers and their staffs in January.

“It simply is an attempt to undermine the IHRA definition to advocate for a different definition, including the Nexus definition, which has been accepted by nobody and is not being used anywhere,” Fingerhut said. “Additionally the substance of it is simply wrong… We recognize that members of Congress and their staffs are likely hearing from people about the Nexus definition, so we’ll address it directly and explain to them why it’s a diversion, and not a substantive response to antisemitism.”

JFNA and other Jewish groups have been urging Congress to pass the Antisemitism Awareness Act, a bill that would codify an executive order declaring antisemitism on college campuses — as defined by IHRA — as a prohibited form of discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

“This bill doesn’t solve the problem, but contributes to the solution and would be an important tool that we could use to address the problem,” Fingerhut told JI. “The specific issue of the IHRA definition, to many members of Congress and staff, it’s still a relatively new issue.”

The Nexus group has been playing an increasingly influential role behind the scenes, including urging lawmakers not to support a resolution that described anti-Zionism as antisemitic; 92 Democrats voted “present” and 13 voted no.

And it rallied supporters for Derek Penslar, a Harvard professor selected to lead the school’s antisemitism task force who was dismissive of the scope of the problem.

Some progressive Democrats have previously urged the administration not to solely rely on the IHRA definition, so the new lobbying effort likely will find allies within the party’s congressional ranks.