(JTA) — The Church of England’s College of Bishops voted to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism, including all its examples.
The action comes after the Labour Party in July adopted the definition but omitted four points that identify certain types of anti-Israel rhetoric as anti-Semitic. Following criticism, the Labour Party adopted the full definition but added a clause about free speech on issues such as Israel.
The statement issued by the Bishops “notes the necessity of adopting the IHRA working definition “including all examples, without qualification or exemption.”
The church’s action was taken on behalf of the entire church at the College of Bishops annual meeting in Oxford this week.
The Bishops also “issued a call to everyone in public life to reject any language or action which could cause prejudice, stigma or hatred towards people on the grounds of their religion, culture, origins, identity or beliefs,” according to the Church of England’s website.
The comes days after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, spoke of the need for the full backing of the definition during a pre-Rosh Hashanah video at the house of British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.
Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, applauded the decision.
“The adoption of the definition in its entirety – with all of its examples, and without caveats – is a wonderful example of solidarity by a fellow faith community,” she said in a statement. “This sends a clear message that the Church of England will not tolerate antisemitism and we thank the bishops, and the Archbishop of Canterbury in particular, for the moral leadership they have shown.”
The IHRA’s working definition includes among examples of anti-Semitism the accusation that Jews are “more loyal to Israel” than their own country and that Israel’s existence is a “racist endeavor.” It also defines anti-Semitism as applying a “double standard” on Israel and comparing “contemporary Israeli policy” to that of the Nazis.
Pro-Palestinian critics of the working definition says it could be used to stifle legitimate criticism of Israel.
The non-binding definition is meant to establish a baseline for defining anti-Semitism among the dozens of countries and NGOs that have adopted it.