March 22, 2020

Palm Beach Gardens adopts IHRA antisemitism definition

Palm Beach Gardens
The city of Palm Beach Gardens passed a resolution adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's working definition of antisemitism on March 5.

The resolution denounces hate crimes and antisemitism in all forms and expresses solidarity with members of the Jewish community. It also denounces the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

"We're very proud of the city of Palm Beach Gardens for having made this legislation which prohibits the city from doing any business with any company that boycotts Israel," said Rabbi Dovid Vigler of Chabad of Palm Beach Gardens.

Vigler also said, "Today, antisemitism is masked behind anti-Zionism."

"It's very important to recognize that to be anti-Israel is to be antisemitic, and instead of us being reactive to antisemitic attacks on us, we have to be proactive."

According to Palm Beach Gardens Mayor Mark Marciano, Vigler and the Chabad center initiated this antisemitism conversation in the city. Following the stabbings of five people during a Hanukkah celebration at a rabbi’s home in Monsey, New York, Chabad of Palm Beach Gardens hosted a discussion in January that addressed antisemitism with former New York State assemblyman Dov Hikind. Members of the Palm Beach Gardens city council attended the event, where Marciano had the chance to speak.

Following the event, Marciano said the city council discussed the possibility of adopting a resolution denouncing antisemitism. They then reached out to members of the local Jewish community, including Laurence Milstein, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Palm Beach Regional Office.

Milstein suggested that the city use the IHRA working definition of antisemitism that has been adopted by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia and the United States State Department.

While explaining the definition's importance at the city council meeting in which the resolution passed, Milsten said that AJC stepped in and led efforts to address new manifestations of antisemitism by drafting this working definition of hatred back in 2004 that was later adopted in a slightly different form by the IHRA in 2016.
“As we speak, we are witnessing a surge in global antisemitism," Milstein said. "The definition provides government and non-government agencies with a crucial tool to train police, prosecutors and judges, and to inform civil society monitors and educators about what constitutes antisemitism."

Milstein continued, "If we can define antisemitism in its increasingly complex forms, then we can more effectively combat it.”

Marciano said, “We have a very strong and active Jewish community in this city.”

“Once you really start getting into the heart and soul of what the Jewish community feels, what their concerns are and what their fears may be, it drives you to want to act, so we wanted to address this quickly, and I was proud to be the mayor while we were able to put this language together.”

City Attorney Max Lohman crafted the resolution, and the city council provided him with guidance on it.

Source: sun-sentinel