Statements and Definitions

The Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada endorses the following definitions of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance:

The Working Definition of Antisemitism

The Working Definition of Holocaust Denial and Distortion

The Working Definition of Anti-Roma Discrimination

Working Definition of Holocaust-related Materials

The drafting process behind the IHRA’s working definitions and charters allows for the expertise of 34 Member Countries to be made accessible to policymakers. The process begins with IHRA experts drafting the working definition or charter in consultation with members of civil society. This process takes years and is usually spearheaded by one of the IHRA’s Working Groups or Committees. All IHRA decisions are non-legally binding and taken by consensus.

Statement of the Jewish Heritage Centre Jun 7, 2021

The Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada is devastated by the recent discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children on the grounds of the Kamloops Residential School.  Our thoughts are with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, the bereaved families who for so many years have held out hope that their children were alive, albeit lost to them.  We are further saddened by the certainty that more hidden graves will be found throughout Canada including our home province of Manitoba. For far too long, we who are guests on these lands, have taught a false narrative of our history to generation after generation of Canadians that ignored the genocide committed against our Indigenous brothers and sisters.

We express our unequivocal support for the Calls to Action made by the National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation. We have a responsibility to do all we can to foster reconciliation and to firmly condemn the systemic racism that continues to be a stain upon our country.

As Canadian Jews, we identify with the injustices suffered by our Indigenous brothers and sisters. Like them, we remember the pain of racism and exclusion, as well as both recent and historical crimes committed against us, including the burial of millions of unidentified Holocaust victims in mass graves.

We acknowledge that the Jewish Heritage Centre is located on original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation. We respect the Treaties that were made on these territories, we acknowledge the harms and mistakes of the past, and we dedicate ourselves to move forward in partnership with Indigenous communities in a spirit of reconciliation and collaboration.

IHRA 2020 Ministerial Declaration

As we mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of German Nazi concentration and extermination camps and other sites of persecution and murder, we, the High Governmental Representatives of the Member Countries of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) honor the victims and survivors of the Holocaust (Shoah) which engulfed the Jewish people. We honor, too, the victims and survivors of the genocide of the Roma and others who were persecuted. We promise to never forget those who resisted the Nazis and those who protected or rescued their persecuted fellow human beings. Today, the world still faces genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and continued threats to pluralistic, democratic and inclusive societies.

As we witness with sadness the passing of the survivor generation, we, the IHRA Member Countries:

  1. Reaffirm our unwavering support for the Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum (2000), the founding document of the IHRA.
  2. Pledge to the victims and survivors that they shall never be forgotten and that their legacy will be kept alive.
  3. Emphasize that remembering the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust is the responsibility not only of governments but of societies as a whole.
  4. Remember the genocide of the Roma. We acknowledge with concern that the neglect of this genocide has contributed to the prejudice and discrimination that many Roma communities still experience today.
  5. Honor all those who resisted the Nazis, especially the Righteous among the Nations, and others who protected or sought to rescue those who were in danger. Their selfless courage should inspire us all to defend the dignity of every human being.
  6. Express our deepest concerns about rising antisemitism.
  7. Accept our responsibility as governments to continue working together to counter Holocaust denial and distortion, antisemitism, and all forms of racism and discrimination that undermine fundamental democratic principles. We will work closely with experts, civil society and our international partners to further these goals.
  8.  Lead efforts to promote education, remembrance and research on the Holocaust and the genocide of the Roma to counter the influence of historical distortion, hate speech and incitement to violence and hatred.
  9. Safeguard the historical record of the Holocaust, the genocide of the Roma, and the persecution of other victims by Nazi Germany and those fascist and extreme nationalist partners and other collaborators who participated in these crimes.
  10. Underline the importance of identifying, preserving, and making available archival material, testimonies and authentic sites for educational purposes, commemoration and research.
  11. Encourage all countries and societies to address their respective pasts by dealing openly and accurately with the historical record.
  12. Commend efforts by governments and civil society to commemorate the Holocaust and share good practices.
  13. Recognize that understanding the unprecedented nature of the Holocaust is essential to the prevention of genocide and mass atrocity crimes. IHRA expertise is relevant to historically informed policymaking and addressing contemporary challenges.
  14. Determined to remember those who suffered and to strive for a better future, we call upon the international community to share our vision:

A world that remembers the Holocaust

A world without genocide

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance unites governments and experts to strengthen, advance and promote Holocaust education, remembrance and research worldwide. 

IHRA Working Definition of Holocaust Denial and Distortion

The present definition is an expression of the awareness that Holocaust denial and distortion have to be challenged and denounced nationally and internationally and need examination at a global level. IHRA hereby adopts the following legally non-binding working definition as its working tool.

Holocaust denial is discourse and propaganda that deny the historical reality and the extent of the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis and their accomplices during World War II, known as the Holocaust or the Shoah. Holocaust denial refers specifically to any attempt to claim that the Holocaust/Shoah did not take place.

Holocaust denial may include publicly denying or calling into doubt the use of principal mechanisms of destruction (such as gas chambers, mass shooting, starvation and torture) or the intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people.

Holocaust denial in its various forms is an expression of antisemitism. The attempt to deny the genocide of the Jews is an effort to exonerate National Socialism and antisemitism from guilt or responsibility in the genocide of the Jewish people. Forms of Holocaust denial also include blaming the Jews for either exaggerating or creating the Shoah for political or financial gain as if the Shoah itself was the result of a conspiracy plotted by the Jews. In this, the goal is to make the Jews culpable and antisemitism once again legitimate.

The goals of Holocaust denial often are the rehabilitation of an explicit antisemitism and the promotion of political ideologies and conditions suitable for the advent of the very type of event it denies.  See more

The IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism

In the spirit of the Stockholm Declaration that states: “With humanity still scarred by …antisemitism and xenophobia the international community shares a solemn responsibility to fight those evils” the committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial called the IHRA Plenary in Budapest 2015 to adopt the following working definition of antisemitism.

On 26 May 2016, the Plenary in Bucharest decided to:

Adopt the following non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism:

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

To guide IHRA in its work, the following examples may serve as illustrations:

Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.

Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
  • Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
  • Accusing the 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, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

Antisemitic acts are criminal when they are so defined by law (for example, denial of the Holocaust or distribution of antisemitic materials in some countries).

Criminal acts are antisemitic when the targets of attacks, whether they are people or property – such as buildings, schools, places of worship and cemeteries – are selected because they are, or are perceived to be, Jewish or linked to Jews.

Antisemitic discrimination is the denial to Jews of opportunities or services available to others and is illegal in many countries.