Geneva, October 5th, 2021 – With less than one hundred days until Holocaust Remembrance Day 2022, the International Coalition for Israel (ICI)* has launched an educational campaign to invite local churches to adopt the IHRA working definition of antisemitism. The working definition was adopted unanimously by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s 31 member states in 2016. The European Parliament endorsed it in 2018, and in December 2019 the Council of the European Union adopted a declaration calling on Member States that had not yet done so to adopt the IHRA definition.
“We are grateful for those church denominations and networks which have already adopted the IHRA working definition, in response to our previous outreach, but it is equally important that this work translates into concrete actions on a local level, involving as many local churches as possible,” ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell said on Tuesday. By providing participating churches with educational resources ICI hopes to encourage more churches to observe Holocaust Remembrance and become involved in the day-to-day combat of old and new forms of antisemitism, as defined by the IHRA working definition, which also includes anti-Zionism.
“We would like to inspire 100 more churches to adopt the working definition. One hundred churches is a symbolic goal which equates to the number of days left until 27th of January. But it is not the exact number of churches that is important. What matters, rather, is that local churches take seriously the responsibility to consider whether or not they have been negatively influenced by flawed theological or ideological presuppositions which over the years have given birth to antisemitism. Only by discussing and considering these issues can any of us learn to overcome such prejudices. Conversely, there are many churches that already have a sound stance towards the Jewish people but lack a platform to make their voices heard. ICI wants to be a resource in both cases,” explains Dr. Emilie Noteboom, who is the coordinator of the campaign.
Earlier this year, ICI hosted an online Holocaust memorial with statements from respected Christian leaders, including Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, Reverend Nicky Gumbel of Holy Trinity Brompton in London and pioneer of the worldwide Alpha movement, Bishop Teemu Laajasalo of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Helsinki in Finland, and Christian author and social critic Os Guinness of the USA.
This willingness to take a stand for the Jewish people and show appreciation for their culture was also expressed in the recent Celebrate Israel Marathon on September 5th when church communities from all continents took part in the online marathon. The campaign will conclude with a symposium in Berlin and with a Holocaust Memorial on January 27th, 2022.
*ICI is an umbrella group for all international activities initiated by the European Coalition for Israel (ECI) outside of Europe and other regional activities affiliated with ICI.