Macedonia adopts definition of anti-Semitism that mentions Israel hatred
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Macedonia adopts definition of anti-Semitism that mentions Israel hatred

Balkan nation joins UK, Romania and Bulgaria in backing International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition, as it marks 75th years since deportation of its Jews

This handout photo provided by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum shows Aleksander Belev, center, facing camera, the Bulgarian Commissioner for Jewish Questions, overseeing the deportation of Macedonian Jews from Bulgarian-occupied Skopje, Yugoslavia, in March 1943. (AP Photo/Central Zionist Archives via the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)
This handout photo provided by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum shows Aleksander Belev, center, facing camera, the Bulgarian Commissioner for Jewish Questions, overseeing the deportation of Macedonian Jews from Bulgarian-occupied Skopje, Yugoslavia, in March 1943. (AP Photo/Central Zionist Archives via the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)

The Balkan nation of Macedonia has joined the United Kingdom, Romania and Bulgaria in adopting a definition of anti-Semitism that includes the demonization of Israel.

Macedonia, where the 75th anniversary of the deportation of the country’s Jews during the Holocaust is being commemorated this week, adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition last week, the World Jewish Congress said on its website.

Next month, the country will see the opening of the Holocaust Memorial Center for the Jews of Macedonia. Designed by Berenbaum Jacobs Associates, the new museum tells the story of Macedonian Jewry, beginning two millennia ago to the growth of the community as a haven from the Spanish Inquisition all the way to post-Holocaust Jewish Macedonia.

Nearly all of Macedonia’s more than 10,000 Jews were murdered in Treblinka, a former German death camp in occupied Poland, after their deportation by Bulgarian forces that had ruled the country with the approval of Nazi Germany.

This image provided by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum shows Bulgarian policemen overseeing the deportation of Macedonian Jews to the German death camps in March 1943 in Bulgarian occupied Skopje. (AP Photo/U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Courtesy of Jewish Historical Museum, Belgrade)

Over the past two years, several European countries, as well as the European Parliament, have adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism. The alliance adopted it in 2016 after the European Union’s body for fighting anti-Semitism removed from its website its working definition of anti-Semitism, which also included examples of some hateful speech on Israel.

The EU dropped its definition following lobbying by pro-Palestinian activists and pulled it from the website of its anti-racism agency. In response to a query about the removal, an EU spokesman told JTA in 2013 that the definition was never official. Israel protested its removal.

Manifestations of anti-Semitism, the new definition reads, “might include the targeting of the State of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collective,” though “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.”

In France and elsewhere in Europe, Jews have been targeted by perpetrators of racist violence — often Muslims — seeking payback for actions, or what they claim are actions, by Israel that they oppose.

Scholars of anti-Semitism call this “new anti-Semitism.” However, the French government watchdog on racism in 2017 said it had no evidence supporting the “new anti-Semitism thesis,” as the report’s authors wrote.

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