Côte St-Luc adopts IHRA anti-Semitism definition

The Côte St-Luc council met off-site the city hall due to the coronavirus. (Wikipedia photo)

Côte St-Luc has become the third Quebec municipality to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

At its March 16 meeting, the council passed a resolution endorsing the definition and calling upon other levels of government and jurisdictions to do the same as a means of combatting anti-Semitism.

Westmount and Hampstead, Que., earlier this year passed motions adopting the definition.

The Côte St-Luc council described the IHRA working definition as “the most universally accepted and expertly-driven definition of anti-Semitism available today.”

The resolution states that the definition provides clarity on how anti-Semitism manifests itself and thereby allows elected officials, government departments and agencies, academics, law enforcement, civil organizations and the public at large “to be on the same page in identifying and understanding the phenomenon.”

It further states that the IHRA definition “recognizes that anti-Semitism masks itself as anti-Zionism, without quelling legitimate criticisms of the State of Israel.”

That section of the non-legally enforceable definition has been criticized by those who think it will be used to suppress criticism of Israel and advocacy for the Palestinian cause.

Côte St-Luc’s adoption was applauded by Federation CJA president Gail Adelson-Marcovitz who termed it “the world’s most consensual and widely used definition of anti-Semitism.”

The federation’s advocacy agency, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs – Quebec (CIJA), similarly welcomed the action.

“The IHRA definition is an invaluable tool that has finally enabled authorities at all levels of government to begin identifying and effectively combatting anti-Semitism in all its contemporary forms,” said co-chair Rabbi Reuben Poupko.

In compliance with a directive from the Quebec government to municipalities, the council meeting was not open to the public to prevent transmission of COVID-19. The meeting was livestreamed with the councillors participating from their homes. The video is available on YouTube.