Macedonia Becomes Fourth Country to Include Demonization of Israel in anti-Semitism Definition

Macedonia is commemorating the 75th anniversary of the deportation of the country’s Jews during the Holocaust this week

JTA
JTA
Nationalist politician and member of opposition party VMRO-DPMNE, Nikola Gruevski (L) argues with Parliament speaker Talat Xhaferi (C) during a parliament session in Skopje on March 14, 2018
Nationalist politician and member of opposition party VMRO-DPMNE, Nikola Gruevski (L) argues with Parliament speaker Talat Xhaferi (C) during a parliament session in Skopje on March 14, 2018Credit: AFP PHOTO / Robert ATANASOVSKI
JTA
JTA

The Balkan nation of Macedonia 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 the 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.

Over the past two years, several European countries, as well as the European Parliament, 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 are targeted by perpetrators of racist violence — often Muslims — seeking payback for Israel’s perceived actions. 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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