The IHRA Definition of Antisemitism: Defining Antisemitism by Erasing Palestinians

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Colleges, School and Institutes


The IHRA definition is one of the most contentious documents in the history of efforts to combat antisemitism. Although it first became well known in the UK as a result of disputes within the Labour Party, the definition reaches well beyond that context, and has been adopted by universities, city councils, and governments. With its intensive focus on the critique of Israel as a marker of antisemitism, the IHRA definition has been heavily implicated in the suppression of Israel‐critical speech in recent years. This article is among the first to adopt a global perspective on the definition—both its history and its content—clarifying the political stakes of this definition and broader paratextual apparatus for a general audience, and provides an explanation of why it should be rejected rather than used to censor Israel‐critical speech.


Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Political Quarterly
Early online date28 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Jul 2020


  • antisemitism, racism, Israel, Palestine, activism, Middle Eastern politics, Labour Party