The JCRC of Greater Washington Statement on Montgomery County Council Affirmation of IHRA Definition of Antisemitism

JCRC Statement

The JCRC of Greater Washington thanks the Montgomery County Council for passing a non- binding resolution that affirms using the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA )  definition of antisemitism as an educational tool in combating antisemitism in all forms of its manifestations. This resolution is overwhelmingly supported by Montgomery County’s diverse Jewish community.
Councilmember Andrew Friedson, who initiated this resolution, has shown extraordinary courage and steadfast, principled, and unwavering leadership to ensure that this resolution’s passage became a reality. With skill and determination, under relentless pressure, he navigated through nuances to bring the community together, forging a document that enjoys overwhelming support. These are the attributes of a true leader. We are grateful for his efforts.
We are also grateful to Council President Gabe Albornoz, who during his tenure as Council President has consistently demonstrated warmth, respect, and genuine concern for our local Jewish community.  He immediately recognized and appreciated the importance of this resolution and. demonstrated remarkable leadership and legislative acumen in shepherding this resolution to passage.
We thank Councilmember Evan Glass for his good faith efforts to broker a compromise during this challenging process, and we wish him the best of luck as he assumes the Council presidency.  

Most importantly, we are deeply grateful to the thousands of members of the Jewish community and our allies that wrote to Councilmembers to express their support for this resolution.
Since 2005, the IRHA definition has been used by and/or adopted by the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the European Union, the Obama, Trump, and Biden Administrations and many other international private and public bodies. It is supported by the official bodies representing Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism. To address a societal problem, it must first be clearly defined and understood. And, despite alarming spikes in antisemitic incidents nationally and locally, antisemitism in all its forms is still poorly understood and recognized.  The IHRA definition is the universal gold standard to provide context and depth as we work together to combat this oldest form of hatred.    
Antisemitism has exploded across the United States.  Just within the last two weeks celebrity Kanye West tweeted to 31.4 million followers on Twitter that he would soon go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE. Political candidates routinely use antisemitic and other bigoted language in their quest for public office. In 2021, ADL tabulated 2,717 antisemitic incidents in the US, a 34% increase over the previous year and the most since statistics have been tabulated.   60% of religious based hates crimes in the US are against Jews even though they consist of less than 2% of the population. The recent Montgomery County annual police bias report said, “of the 34 incidents motivated by bias towards religion, 85.3% (29) were considered anti-Jewish, despite Jewish persons making up only 10% of the population.” This week we commemorate the fourth anniversary of the antisemitic terrorist attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh where eleven people were killed and six wounded – the worst attack against Jews in our nation.
Resolutions are statements of unity and are usually unanimously approved by the Council.  This resolution was intended to follow that best Montgomery County tradition – a strong statement of unity against antisemitism. Unfortunately, opponents created a toxic environment by using this as an opportunity to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They turned this into a painful political dispute, which should never have occurred.
We are grateful our county’s elected leadership for making this critical public statement about antisemitism and pledging to work to create a Montgomery County where diversity is cherished and appreciated, all forms of hate and bigotry are rejected, and all are welcomed and celebrated.