UN chief skirts around adoption of IHRA antisemitism definition in speech

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Despite expectations from Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres would use his speech at a UN event today marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day to announce the global forum’s adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism, Guterres refrains from doing so.

Yesterday, Erdan told Kan public radio that “after many conversations I had with him and… his point man on the fight against antisemitism, I expect that tomorrow in his speech [Guterres] will declare that the UN is adopting the [IHRA] definition and is applying it to all UN bodies.”

What Guterres does do is acknowledge the “countries that have agreed on the common definition of antisemitism.”

The secretary general recites the definition, without mentioning that it was IHRA’s. More notably, he leaves out any mention of the more controversial examples of the definition, including anti-Israel criticism that it says can be defined as antisemitic.

“It is important to be clear about what antisemitism is. A shared understanding can serve not only the work of the United Nations, but all global efforts to uphold human rights and human dignity,” Guterres adds, making no mention of a decision to officially adopt the definition.

In pre-recorded remarks presented after those of Guterres and seemingly written under different assumptions, Erdan says he was “pleased to hear him today adopting and applying the IHRA definition of antisemitism in the UN bodies.”

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