17 Jewish Organizations Push for Passage of Antisemitism Awareness Act

Jewish Federations of North America on Wednesday led 16 top American Jewish organizations in a joint letter to members of the House of Representatives reaffirming their support for the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, an accepted and widespread definition of antisemitism.

Clearly and accurately defining antisemitism is key to combating its manifestations wherever they may appear. That's why Jewish Federations and their allies are advocating for the passage of the Antisemitism Awareness Act (H.R.6090), a bipartisan piece of legislation that requires the Department of Education to consider the IHRA definition when conducting federal investigations.

”The IHRA definition provides a comprehensive and internationally recognized framework to delineate and address contemporary manifestations of antisemitism. It is also a consensus definition with bipartisan support, which is critical for effective policy implementation,” the letter reads.

Following Hamas’s October 7th massacre, incidents of discrimination, harassment, and violence directed against Jewish communities in the United States and around the world have dramatically increased. Over three quarters of American Jews feel less safe today since those attacks, and almost half have altered their behavior out of fear of antisemitism. The escalating threat of antisemitic violence and discrimination requires a forceful response from our government.

That's why Jewish Federations are advocating for the passage of The Antisemitism Awareness Act (H.R.6090), bipartisan legislation that requires the Department of Education to use the IHRA definition of antisemitism when conducting federal investigations involving colleges and universities.

More than 1,200 entities around the world have adopted or endorsed the IHRA definition, which is the only definition that has been officially recognized internationally and adopted by mainstream Jewish organizations, including the Jewish Federations of North America. It has also been formally adopted by 35 US states, 91 US cities and municipalities, the US State Department, and President Biden’s National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism. It thus represents a significant milestone in the ongoing struggle against antisemitism.   

The IHRA definition has been readily endorsed by over 160 Jewish communities and organizations from over sixty-five countries who believe it best describes the various forms of antisemitism and Jew hatred that they confront. Additionally, hundreds of universities, business enterprises, sports associations, civil society organizations, and other institutions have adopted it. Click here for more information on entities adopting the IHRA definition and the already widespread and established support the IHRA definition has received. 

The letter also stresses that the endorsement of an alternative definition “would undo years of international cooperation and progress in identifying and combating antisemitism and would only create confusion and unequal standards.” 

While the IHRA definition has been adopted by the U.S. and dozens of U.S. allies, these alternatives have, for good reason, received no support. It is believed that the alternative definitions have not been adopted by any governmental entity anywhere in the world. For Members of Congress “to legitimize any of the alternate definitions would break international consensus and undermine anti-discrimination efforts domestically and abroad,” the letter reads. 

More importantly, adoption of any alternate definition of antisemitism would undermine efforts to protect Jewish communities, the letter states. The IHRA definition’s clear and succinct examples include several relating to Israel, which have proven to be especially important in recent months.

Its purpose is to inform and not enforce, and it calls for “taking into account the overall context” of the situation. It does not punish speech, even antisemitic speech. Instead, it serves to help lawmakers and others determine when conduct is based on antisemitic bias.

Organizations joining JFNA include: 

American Israel Public Affairs Committee

American Jewish Committee 

American Zionist Movement 

Anti-Defamation League 

B’nai B’rith International  

Combat Antisemitism Movement  

Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations 

Elie Wiesel Foundation  

Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America  

Israeli American Council  

Jewish Federations of North America  


National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry 

Rabbinical Assembly  

The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law  

Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America


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