Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on Friday introduced legislation to adopt an international definition of anti-Semitism to apply when identifying hate crimes and violations against Jewish people.
Following the federal government's adoption of the definition in December 2019, Suffolk will use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's working definition of anti-Semitism to educate police and other county workers, determine whether an act is a case of anti-Semitism and prevent such acts from occurring.
"With today's announcement, we are reaffirming our unwavering commitment to promoting and encouraging dignity, respect and equality for all," Bellone said in front of the Center for Social Justice and Human Understanding on Suffolk County Community College's Selden campus.
"We have seen a rise in acts of anti-Semitism and hate," Bellone said. "There doesn't seem to be, unfortunately, a week that goes by that we don't see some act of anti-Semitism. It is disturbing and we will not tolerate it in Suffolk County."
The anti-Semitism definition includes:
Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
Bellone's measure would empower agencies including the county Human Rights Commission and the police departmentto use the definition, "as an educational resource to address and prevent bias related activities motivated by anti-Semitism," according to Bellone's resolution.
The IHRA, initiated in 1998 by former Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson, consists of 34 member countries that have committed officially to addressing Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran will file similar legislation, according to spokesman Michael Fricchione.
"Nassau rejects all forms of hate and County Executive Laura Curran will be filing similar legislation in the coming days to adopt the IHRA’s working definition of anti-Semitism as a reference point to provide further guidance on identifying and combating anti-Semitism," Fricchione said.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's working definition of anti-Semitism includes:
- Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
- Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as … the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
- Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
- Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
- Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
- 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.
- Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
- Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
- Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
- Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.