Netanyahu Thanks Austrian Leader for Pushing to Define Anti-Zionism as Anti-Semitism

Israeli PM Netanyahu and Austrian Chancellor Kurz. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Avi Ohayon (Israeli GPO).

Two key leadership councils of the European Union have endorsed the call for member nations to adopt a definition of anti-Semitism that includes denying the right of Jews to have their own nation, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday thanked Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz for leading this effort. He also quoted Martin Luther King as giving the same definition of anti-Semitism.

“I recently read a cogent remark by the noted American human rights leader Martin Luther King: ‘When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism,’” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office, going on to thank Kurz for his leadership in the European Union adopting a similar definition.

“Nobody can say that they are not against Americans, but they just think that America shouldn’t exist, just as nobody can say that they are not against Jews, but they think that the state of the Jews does not need to exist,” said Netanyahu. “I thank the Austrian Chancellor for working to expose this absurdity and to precisely define anti-Zionism as a type of anti-Semitism.”

On December 6, the Council of the EU—a key part of the EU legislative process—endorsed the anti-Semitism definition, which was originally put forth by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

The IHRA definition, posted to their website, includes in the list of examples of anti-Semitism: “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.”

The Council of the EU—in their statement on December 6 posted to the EU website—called upon their member nations to “endorse the non-legally binding working definition” as “a useful guidance tool in education and training, including for law enforcement authorities.”

Just over one week later, the European Council—which consists of European heads of state—welcomed the decision by the other EU body earlier in the month in a statement posted to the EU website.

After the last decision, Israeli Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Yuval Rotem expressed their thanks on Twitter for the move and applauded Kurz for his role in getting the approach accepted.

Kurz responded with a tweet of his own: “Thank you @Yuval_Rotem, we will continue to fight all forms of anti-semitism and protect Jewish life in Europe. I am very glad that we could once again express our firm commitment to this fight during our #eu2018at and for the first time ever in the Council Conclusions.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, December 16,2018)


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