By Joseph Hammond

LA — The Los Angeles City Council’s 11-0 vote on Tuesday to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)’s Working Definition of Antisemitism has drawn widespread praise. 

Rabbi Meyer H. May, executive director of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, said, “The unanimous L.A. City Council vote to adopt the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism is a clear and powerful statement by the council that anti-Semitism has no place in our city.

Rabbi Meyer H. May (extreme left) with others at Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel, in Beverly Hills, California on June 11, 2013. He said antisemitism should be unequivocally identified. MICHAEL KOVA/GETTY IMAGES 

He said that “indeed any manifestation of anti-Semitism directed towards Jews, Jewish community institutions and religious facilities is to be unequivocally identified for what it is—anti-Semitism and bigotry!

“The City Council’s decision wisely reminds what Simon Wiesenthal famously said, ‘For your benefit, learn from our tragedy [the Holocaust]. It is not a written law that the next victims must be Jews. It can also be other people,’” said May. 

Rabbi Noah Farkas, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, said the federation “sends our appreciation to the L.A. City Councilmembers Bob Blumenfield and Paul Koretz and to the all other members of the L.A. City Council for officially adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. 

“This action is an important step to show the Jewish residents of Los Angeles, and all surrounding areas, that we are heard and valued. 

“This also signifies that the City of Los Angeles stands against all forms of hate and will help guide efforts to identify anti-Semitism and equip policymakers to address an alarming rise in hate,” said Farkas. 

Rabbi Noah Farkas of the LA Jewish Federation speaks an interfaith prayer service for peace in Ukraine, in Los Angeles on, March 15, 2022.  Farkas applauded the LA City Council’s move to curb rising antisemitism. KEITH BIRMINGHAM/MEDIA NEWS GROUP/PASADENA STAR-NEWS VIA GETTY IMAGES

Councilmember Paul Koretz, who sponsored the legislation, said, “As the son of a Holocaust survivor who has made ‘never forget’ central to my personal mission to lead with compassion and treat all others with dignity, I am incredibly dismayed that growing discrimination and hateful propaganda against Jews is rearing its ugly head in today’s day and age. 

“But the color of anti-Semitism is not always overt, and doesn’t necessarily resemble the anti-Semitism that my father experienced, yet.” 

Koretz said that the “resolution is a guiding tool to apply to existing rules and laws where anti-Semitism may be involved. For the first time, having this working definition provides a tool to educate, identify and combat the language and behavior that leads to violence and has been swept under the rug for far too long.” 

The measure requires Los Angeles city departments, staff, elected and appointed officials, and contract agencies to familiarize themselves with the IHRA definition and associated reference materials, which they will incorporate into their day-to-day operations.

The IHRA definition has been adopted by 37 U.N. member countries and 320 non-federal government entities, including 22 U.S. states.


Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate.

(Additional reporting provided by JNS Reporter)

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