The Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a resolution endorsing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism on November 1.
The resolution, which was introduced by City Councilmember Paul Koretz, noted that “hate crimes reported statewide increased 32 percent from 2020 to 2021 and are at their highest reported level since 2001,” according to a report from the California Attorney General. “Contemporary manifestations of antisemitism may include: calling for, aiding, or justifying the harming of Jews; making dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews; denying the fact, scope, mechanisms, or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people during the Holocaust; accusing 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; denying the Jewish people their right to self determination; applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation; using symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism; drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis; accusing Jews of being responsible for wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group; or holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel,” the resolution stated.
The resolution concluded with a request for “City departments, staff, elected and appointed officials, and contract agencies to familiarize themselves with the IHRA definition of antisemitism, associated IHRA reference materials, examples, and articles, and incorporate their use where appropriate.”
Jewish groups praised the city council for passing the resolution.
“Those who understand this hatred as it appeared in Nazi Germany may not recognize all the ways Jews experience it today in Los Angeles,” American Jewish Committee Los Angeles Regional Director Richard Hirschhaut said in a statement. “As a result, many incidents of antisemitism are misidentified, unaddressed, or underreported. Adopting the IHRA definition will make our city government more informed, and help government leaders, law enforcement, educators and the media properly identify antisemitism and take appropriate action. We thank Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Bob Blumenfield for their leadership in spearheading this important effort.”
StandWithUs CEO and Co-Founder Roz Rothstein also said in a statement, “This is a victory against hatred and ignorance. Antisemitism comes from across the political spectrum and often mutates, which can make it difficult to identify. Those who recognize the persecution my family faced in the Holocaust may not understand all the ways it appears today in Los Angeles. The Holocaust did not begin with gas chambers. It began with vicious hateful words. That is why we need IHRA, a clear and widely accepted definition that will make our city government better educated and equipped to fight bigotry against Jews.”
Simon Wiesenthal Center Executive Director Rabbi Meyer H. May said in a statement, “Today’s unanimous LA City Council vote to adopt the IHRA working definition of antisemitism is a clear and powerful statement by the Council that antisemitism has no place in our city and indeed any manifestation of antisemitism directed toward Jews, Jewish community institutions and religious facilities is to be unequivocally identified for what it is – antisemitism and bigotry! The City Council’s decision wisely reminds what Simon Wiesenthal famously said, ‘For your benefit, learn from our tragedy (the Holocaust). It is not a written law that the next victims must be Jews. It can also be other people.’”