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Internationale Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)

Borussia Dortmund adopts Working Definition of anti-Semitism

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In January 2020, more than 60 members of royalty, presidents, prime ministers and parliamentary leaders from around the world gathered at the Yad Vashem memorial site in Jerusalem for the 5th World Holocaust Forum. To mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, the world leaders pledged to take measures to combat anti-Semitism and remember the Holocaust and German atrocities in World War II. A delegation from Borussia Dortmund, led by CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke, took part in the moving ceremony.

Over the course of the World Holocaust Forum, Borussia Dortmund resolved to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA) Working Definition of anti-Semitism and make an important contribution to the fight against anti-Semitism. Signing the pledge on October 8, 2020, Hans-Joachim Watzke said: "Through our diverse range of projects, from readings and workshops to annual education trips to various memorial sites, we are able to reach many BVB fans, employees, partners and sponsors. It is a further step in our work to adopt the working definition of anti-Semitism."

German football has made great progress in the fight against anti-Semitism in recent years, according to BVB managing director Carsten Cramer. The German Football League (DFL) offers training for fan liasion officers and several clubs run various projects. "We hope many more clubs will join us," said Cramer. "There can only be one common strategy to combat anti-Semitism. The IHRA definition provides us with the right framework."

The signing of the declaration could not take place as originally planned due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the German government's Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against anti-Semitism Felix Klein, the UK's anti-Semitism Commissioner Lord John Mann and the Director for German-speaking countries at the Yad Vashem memorial Ruth Ur attended via video conference.

Felix Klein emphasized that: "In order to spot and effectively combat anti-Semitism early on, it is important to educate society to be aware of the boundaries between freedom of opinion and anti-Semitism. The past has unfortunately shown, that this has not always been the case in football as well. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's Working Definition of anti-Semitism delivers a valuable orientation to assess individual cases fairly. By adopting the IHRA's working definition, Borussia Dortmund has sent a strong signal against the hatred of Jews. I greatly welcome this move and hope that other clubs will follow this excellent example."

His English counterpart John Mann added: "This is a powerful demonstration of the ethics and values of Borussia Dortmund Football Club. The reach of Borussia Dortmund is huge both in Germany and well beyond and I salute their leadership. The adoption of the IHRA definition will be a practical assistance in allowing the club to play a genuine role in combating the evil of antisemitism. There is much that others can learn from the approach of Dortmund and we look forward to assisting them in spreading their message and their values."

Ruth Ur said: "The IHRA working definition is an important tool in the fight against antisemitism. As one of there world’s best-known football teams, BVB's adoption of IHRA’s working definition will serve as a signal and example to others. It is another step forward in BVB’s ongoing commitment to raising awareness of the lessons of the Holocaust. It is also reminder that fighting antisemitism and discrimination is the responsibility of societies as a whole and across nations. As a member of IHRA, Yad Vashem commends BVB for its adoption of the working definition and we welcome other organisations following suit."

The exact wording of the working definition of anti-Semitism:

"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."

You can find further information and explanations of the Working Definition of anti-Semitism in the following link: