The Federal Council has recognized the working definition of antisemitism proposed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance IHRA. The confederation is hereby joining a large number of states, cities and organisations. Furthermore, the Federal Council intends to strengthen measures against racism and antisemitism. The Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities SIG, and the Platform of Liberal Jews in Switzerland PLJS welcome these steps.
In response to a requirement by Paul Rechsteiner, a member of the Council of States, the Federal Council has released its report on the IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism today. The Federal Council recognises in it the value and the practical relevance of the IHRA’s non-legally binding working definition. The Federal Council emphasises, furthermore, that the working definition must be interpreted in the context in which it is applied. Consequently, all the state and non-state parties are called upon to engage more deeply with the working definition and the corresponding debate.
The IHRA’s definition of antisemitism has proven itself
The IHRA’s definition of antisemitism is now being recognised and applied by 29 states, as well as various cities and organisations. The SIG relies on this definition in its handling of incidents and their treatment in its antisemitism report. The IHRA, of which Switzerland is also a member, passed this definition in 2016. In 2017, the European Parliament required its member states to take it up. It reads: «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.» The definition is supplemented by eleven examples, for easy use.
Strengthening the measures against antisemitism and racism
In its report, the Federal Council has additionally drafted a catalogue of measures, in order to combat antisemitism and racism more fully. The Federal Council intends to take on a coordinating role so as to take optimal advantage of synergies and foster the development of a nationwide strategy. This strategy will comprise, among other things, the strengthening, cooperation and coordination of those involved in combatting antisemitism at the state and non-state levels. There should also be a coordinated strategy for actively informing and sensitising the public. A visible and accessible notification office for racist hate speech on the internet and on social media should also be established. Finally, relevant parties at all state levels are called upon to recognise the report and implement the recommendations for measures against antisemitism in their areas of responsibility.
Jewish umbrella associations welcome the Federal Council’s report
The two Jewish umbrella associations in Switzerland, SIG and PLJS, welcome the Federal Council’s report. The report represents a nuanced engagement with the subject matter. It is, furthermore, very encouraging that the Federal Council has expressed an interest in strengthening the measures against antisemitism and racism. The umbrella associations continue to offer their expertise and are open to cooperations in specific areas.
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