(JTA) — Germany has formally accepted an international definition of anti-Semitism in a move designed to provide clarity for the prosecution of related crimes.
The German Cabinet announced Wednesday that it unanimously adopted the working definition promoted by the International Alliance for Holocaust Remembrance, a body with 31 member states.
In addition to classic forms of anti-Semitism, the definition offers examples of modern manifestations, such as targeting all Jews as a proxy for Israel, denying Jews the right to a homeland and using historical anti-Semitic images to tarnish all Israelis.
“We Germans are particularly vigilant when our country is threatened by an increase in anti-Semitism,” Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière said following the Wednesday morning meeting. “History made clear to us, in the most terrible way, the horrors to which anti-Semitism can lead.”
Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, welcomed the announcement “as a clear signal” that anti-Semitism is not tolerated in Germany.
In Germany, recent court decisions reveal the difficulty of finding unanimity on the issue. For example, while some courts have found anti-Zionist-motivated crimes to be tantamount to anti-Semitism, since perpetrators blame Jews in Germany for Israel’s policies, other courts have accepted political motivation as a mitigating factor in sentencing.