Definition of Antisemitism

These definitions are intended to be a resource to aid in learning and understanding. They are not definitions of the policies of the University of Pittsburgh. For policy definitions, please visit the Policies, Procedures, and Practices section of the website.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance adopted the following working definition of antisemitism in 2016:

Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

This working definition is legally non-binding, but is used by the United States Commission on Civil Rights to help universities identify the lines between hateful and non-hateful incidents. It was adopted as a non-binding, working definition in 2016 by the U.S. State Department and the 30 other member states of the IHRA.

The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism is another tool to identify, confront and raise awareness about antisemitism as it manifests in countries around the world today:

Antisemitism is discrimination, prejudice, hostility or violence against Jews as Jews (or Jewish institutions as Jewish).

It is racist to essentialize (treat a character trait as inherent) or to make sweeping negative generalizations about a given population. What is true of racism in general is true of antisemitism in particular.

Antisemitism can be manifested in words, visual images, and deeds.

Antisemitism can be direct or indirect, explicit or coded.

Denying or minimizing the Holocaust by claiming that the deliberate Nazi genocide of the Jews did not take place, or that there were no extermination camps or gas chambers, or that the number of victims was a fraction of the actual total, is antisemitic.

The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism is a tool to identify, confront and raise awareness about antisemitism as it manifests in countries around the world today. It includes a preamble, definition, and a set of 15 guidelines.

Additional resources

Additional educational resources are available at the website, “Antisemitism Uncovered: A Guide to Old Myths in a New Era,” a project of the ADL. This website offers historical context, fact-based descriptions of antisemitic myths, contemporary examples, and ways to combat hate and misinformation.