Dallas adopts IHRA definition of antisemitism
DALLAS, TEXAS-SEPTEMBER 25: Dallas City Hall on September 25, 2014. Located at 1500 Marilla in the Government District of downtown Dallas

This story was updated Friday, April 28 with comments from Mayor Eric Johnson and Sherry Goldberg.

The Dallas City Council approved a resolution Wednesday morning adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism along with its 11 contemporary examples. The IHRA definition was adopted May 26, 2016. The State of Texas adopted the IHRA definition in June 2021.

The IHRA definition will be used as “an educational resource for all public safety agencies, including the Dallas Police Department and other city agencies responsible for addressing antisemitism and other forms of discrimination,” the resolution reads.

The resolution went in effect immediately after its unanimous passage via a roll call vote.

City Council Member Jaynie Schultz, who represents, District 11, and chairs the Workforce, Education and Equity Committee brought the resolution to Wednesday’s agenda, at the recommendation of the committee.

“It is commonly said that Jews are the canaries in the coal min. In other words, when antisemitism is allowed to go unchecked and unchallenged, every other group that has been historically abused will soon feel the same pain. We have seen that truth time and time again…. This resolution allows us to stand firm in our fight against hate and bigotry,” Schultz said.

Mayor Eric Johnson has made it clear that establishing that hate will not be tolerated in Dallas is a priority for him.

“This kind of a resolution is really if you think about it, just part of that whole personality of our city. We just want to let everybody know around the world that we don’t do anti we don’t do discrimination here. We’re not going to tolerate hate, discrimination, mistreatment of anybody. We want this to be a place where everybody, no matter what their background is — or what religion they practice — or anything else can come and be successful and you can thrive and it’s working.

Johnson established the Mayor’s Anti-Hate Advisory Council in 2021. Co-chaired by Sherry Goldberg, Sammie Berry, Gary Sanchez and Sanjiv Yanik, it has been a key in making sure that hatred in all forms against all groups is being discussed, studied and addressed by Dallas officials. 

Joel Schwitzer, the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC’s) regional director and the Mayor’s Anti-Hate Advisory Council have served as key resources for the WEE committee.

Schwitzer told the TJP Wednesday, “We cannot possibly fight antisemitism in the absence of an agreed-upon definition.  The IHRA definition has become the gold standard, adopted by over 40 countries, 29 states and dozens of county and municipal governments.”

Goldberg said, “even though [antisemitism] is directed toward Jews, [the Advisory Council’s] work to educate and create awareness will help with other forms of hatred as well. Studies have shown that those who hate one specific group tend to have the same animosity toward other groups. This is our challenge each and every day.”

Goldberg, who also chairs the Community Security Initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas added, “This adoption by our great City will stand for respect, equality and sensitivity to all while it will also educate our residents that the City of Dallas will not tolerate hate in any form.”

The hostage crisis at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville Jan. 15, 2022, brought the reality of antisemitism into focus for the Metroplex. An armed gunman took the synagogue’s rabbi at the time Charlie Cytron-Walker and three Beth Israel congregants hostage. The grueling day ended with the hostages unharmed physically; the hostage taker was fatally shot by the FBI. Reports by the ADL, the American Jewish Committee’s State of Antisemitism in America 2022 report and the Texas Holocaust Genocide and Antisemitism Advisory Commission’s Study on Antisemitism in Texas, have pointed to a sharp increase in antisemitism in the United States and Texas in particular.

Schwitzer says the resolution’s unanimous approval by the Dallas City Council, helps Dallas to lead by example.

“The impact of this resolution is that the IHRA definition and its 11 examples of contemporary antisemitism have been codified as educational tools for all Dallas public safety agencies.  At the highest levels of municipal government, the IHRA definition will serve as a resource in determining antisemitic intent.  This adoption makes Dallas a leader among peer cities in its ability to recognize and call out antisemitism in all its forms, no matter what the source,” Schwitzer said.

City Council Member Cara Mendelsohn, whose grandparents narrowly escaped the Holocaust, said that Wednesday was a proud day for Dallas and its city council and she’s grateful to Mayor Johnson for his support of the resolution.

“All through the process there was tremendous support and that is very gratifying. I especially love that we approved this meaningful item on Israel’s 75th Independence Day,” Mendelsohn said.

Sidebar: The IHRA examples of contemporary antisemitism

The IHRA shares the following 11 examples of contemporary examples of antisemitism on its website.

To guide IHRA in its work, the following examples may serve as illustrations:
Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.

Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
  • Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.
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