El Paso City Council Adopts IHRA Antisemitism Definition as Part of Effort to Protect Minority Communities

The El Paso City Council chambers.

November 24, 2022

The City Council of El Paso, Texas, passed a resolution on Tuesday adopting the  International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism.

City Representative and Mayor Pro Tempore Peter Svarzbein stated, “I would like to thank the City Council of El Paso for adopting the non-legally binding IHRA definition of antisemitism, which states as ‘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.’ We are a community that respects the first amendment, freedom of religion and speech, and celebrates our diversity and the multitude of communities and cultures that make El Paso home.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), there were 112 antisemitic incidents reported in Texas in 2021, an increase of 167% from the previous year, making it one of the top five U.S. states with the highest antisemitism incidence rates.

“El Paso condemns any act of racism and discrimination such as the domestic terrorist attack that occurred in El Paso on August 3rd, 2019, where 23 people were killed and 23 people were injured,” Svarzbein added. “As a City Representative, I have supported policies that expand the protection and rights of immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, and other minority communities. We see too often these days the need to stand united for all of our communities in El Paso and beyond.”

This past January, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced five appointments to the state’s Holocaust, Genocide, and Antisemitism Advisory Commission, which was established by a bipartisan bill passed in June 2021.

With that same legislation, Texas became the first U.S. state to officially adopt the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism.

The definition’s accompanying list of examples details 11 specific discriminatory behaviors targeting Jews and the State of Israel.

A growing number of U.S. cities and states have adopted or endorsed the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism, a welcome trend promoted by the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) and monitored by CAM’s Antisemitism Research Center.

A study by CAM and the Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University shows that nearly 1,000 entities around the world — including international organizations, governing bodies, NGOs, universities, athletic clubs, and corporations, among other groups — have adopted the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism since 2016.