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Paris becomes 1st capital outside Israel to adopt IHRA anti-Semitism definition

City officially adopts definition that is source of debate, with some activists saying it stifles free speech

Illustrative: A man wearing a yellow vest holds a placard reading 'I [too] am a 
Jew,' during a gathering at the Republique square to protest against anti-Semitism, in Paris, France, February 19, 2019.  (AP Photo/Thibault Camus
Illustrative: A man wearing a yellow vest holds a placard reading 'I [too] am a Jew,' during a gathering at the Republique square to protest against anti-Semitism, in Paris, France, February 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus

JTA — The City Council of Paris endorsed the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism on Friday, becoming the first capital city in the world outside Israel to do so officially, according to a statement by the Israeli Embassy in France.

Only a few of the 163 delegates objected in the vote by a show of hands to the resolution.

Hundreds of anti-Semitic incidents occur annually in Paris.

The definition has been a source of ongoing debate in the United States and beyond.

A municipal worker cleans swastikas spray painted on columns of the Rivoli Street in central Paris on October 11, 2020. (STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP)

Its text lists as examples of anti-Semitism classic tropes alongside some forms of vitriol against Israel, including comparing its policies to Nazi Germany and “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.”

The definition also states that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

Critics, including many pro-Palestinian activists, cite freedom of speech concerns.

In 2019, the French parliament’s lower house passed a resolution endorsing the IHRA definition following acrimonious debates.

The United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Romania, Canada and Australia are among the dozens of governments that have adopted the IHRA definition.

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