Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Wednesday called on the world to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism.

Addressing the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Anti-Semitism, he said that the IHRA definition had become a “widely accepted reference point” in the fight against anti-Semitism, adopted by more than 30 countries.

Speaking live via video to the conference, hosted by the Swedish government, Herzog explained the difference between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism.

“As a true democrat and former head of the Israeli parliamentary opposition in the Knesset, I not only support but insist on, the right of any citizen or group to criticize any government on its policies,” he said. “But when criticism of a particular Israeli policy mutates into questioning Israel’s very right to exist—this is not diplomacy; this is demonization and anti-Semitism because Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people.”

Herzog said anti-Semitism “is an infusion of hate into pockets of ignorance, a force of destruction that wears down any virtue in its path.” Fighting it, he continued, “will require not only improving Holocaust education in schools, such as the outstanding program of Yad Vashem, but also working aggressively on social media, including … confronting social-media companies to ensure that hateful incitement is quickly removed.”

In conclusion, he stated: “The path we set today is critical for the future of European Jews and communities, and for the future of Europe as a modern, tolerant society. Jews must be free to live full, open and proud Jewish lives wherever they are. They must be safe.”

The gathering was attended by Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, European Council president Charles Michael, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder and European Jewish Congress president Moshe Kantor, in addition to Holocaust survivors.


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