Dutch lawmakers call on government to adopt international definition of anti-Semitism


AMSTERDAM (JTA) — A majority of Dutch lawmakers supported a motion calling on the government to adopt an official definition for anti-Semitism.

The vote Tuesday in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the kingdom’s parliament, was on a nonbinding resolution urging the adoption of the IHRA working definition for the hatred of Jews.

The document, named after the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, or IHRA, that formulated it in 2016, has since then been adopted formally by several countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany and five others in the European Union, as well as the EU as a whole. But the Netherlands’ government has resisted calls to follow suit.

Of the 150 lawmakers in the Tweede Kamer, 86 voted in favor of the nonbinding motion. The Ruling People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy and the right-wing Party for Freedom, the country’s second largest, also supported the motion, along with the Christian-Democratic Appeal and smaller parties, such the Reformed Political Party of Kees van der Stij, who submitted the motion.

But Dutch Labour, as well as all of the other left-wing parties represented in parliament, did not support the motion.

Pro-Palestinian activists oppose the IHRA definition because it lists some examples of vitriol against Israel as forms of anti-Semitism, though it stipulates that criticizing the Jewish state is not anti-Semitic.

The definition features mostly examples of anti-Semitic behaviors that do not concern Israel, such as calling to harm Jews or denying the Holocaust or the Jewish people’s right to self determination.

Manifestations of anti-Semitism, the new definition reads, “might include the targeting of the State of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity,” though “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.”

In September, Britain’s Labour party adopted the IHRA definition amid a row between centrists, who supported the definition, and supporters of Labour’s far-left leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who sought to introduce a softened version of the document.

NOS, the Dutch state broadcaster, called the definition “disputed” in its reporting about the vote, asserting the definition “does not clearly separate anti-Semitism from criticism of the Israeli government,” according to its critics.

That Dutch Labour, Green Left and D66 voted against the motion is “sad,” wrote Ronny Naftaniel, a leader of Dutch Jewry and of the Brussels-based CEJI educational group. “Primarily Dutch Labour should be ashamed of itself,” added Naftaniel, who is a longtime member of that party. “Even British Labour, which is accused of anti-Semitism, adopted the document,” he wrote on Twitter.

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