(left to right): Esther Renzer, International President SWU; Roz Rothstein, co-Founder and CEO SWU; Max Samarov, SWU Executive Director Research & Strategy; Richard Hirschhaut, Director AJC Los Angeles; Councilmember Paul Koretz; James Conlon; Councilmember Bob Blumenfield; Saba Soomekh, Associate Director, AJC Los Angeles; Dr. Nili Alon Amit, Associate Director SWU Holocaust Education Center; Tanaz Golshan and Erinn Alcabes, Executive Director SWU Los Angeles
(left to right): Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, Roz Rothstein, Erinn Alcabes, Councilmember Paul Koretz.
(Los Angeles, CA -- November 1, 2022) -- StandWithUs praises the Los Angeles City Council for unanimously passing a resolution to adopt the International Holocaust Alliance (IHRA) working Definition of Antisemitism on November 1, 2022. We were proud to organize and mobilize people to speak out in support of this initiative at the City Council meeting, and thank Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Bob Blumenfield for their leadership.
Roz Rothstein, CEO and co-Founder of StandWithUs, spoke at the City Council meeting, sharing her perspective as a daughter of Holocaust survivors. After the resolution passed, she said, "this is a victory against hatred and ignorance. Antisemitism comes from across the political spectrum and often mutates, which can make it difficult to identify. Those who recognize the persecution my family faced in the Holocaust may not understand all the ways it appears today in Los Angeles. The Holocaust did not begin with gas chambers. It began with vicious hateful words. That is why we need IHRA, a clear and widely accepted definition that will make our city government better educated and equipped to fight bigotry against Jews."
Other StandWithUs speakers at the meeting included Max Samarov, Executive Director of Research & Strategy, Dr. Nili Alon Amit, Associate Director of the Holocaust Education Center and Erinn Alcabes, Executive Director of SWU Los Angeles. StandWithUs also helped ensure the City Council heard testimony from Los Angeles residents who have personally experienced antisemitic hate crimes and incidents.
Video of Roz Rothstein, CEO and Co-Founder of StandWithUs speaking during Public Comments to the LA City Council
The IHRA definition was drafted by leading world experts and reflects the many different forms of hate Jews experience today. It has been adopted or endorsed by over 850 governments, institutions, and organizations, including the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Departments of Education, Justice, and State, governments of over 30 countries, the European Union and the United Nations. This includes bipartisan support from both Democratic and Republican Administrations in the U.S.. In Los Angeles alone, over 60 major local organizations and Jewish leaders endorsed IHRA ahead of the City Council vote.
The resolution aims to educate “City departments, staff, elected and appointed officials, and contract agencies to familiarize themselves with the IHRA definition of antisemitism, associated IHRA reference materials, examples, and articles, and incorporate their use where appropriate.” Importantly, it is not legally binding and does not restrict speech in any way. Instead, it empowers leaders and institutions to use their own free speech rights and responsibilities to condemn incidents of hatred and discrimination, and even use them as teachable moments.
This vote comes at a time when the dangerous virus of antisemitism has emerged again, with cases of assault, harassment, vandalism, discrimination, and online attacks against Jewish communities at near-historic levels. The California Attorney General reported that in 2021, Jews faced the most hate crime events involving a religious bias and that such cases of antisemitism increased by 32 percent compared to the previous year. A wave of recent incidents in Los Angeles only underscores the urgency of taking action.
StandWithUs thanks the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, the Israeli-American Civic Action Network, and the many other partners who united behind this resolution. We applaud the West Hollywood City Council for adopting the IHRA definition on September 22. We look forward to seeing other city governments across the U.S. adopt the IHRA definition as well.
StandWithUs - Highlights from the LA City Council
Video of Koretz speaking during Public Comments to the LA City Council
Video of Nili Alon Amit, Associate Director of the StandWithUs Holocaust Education Center speaking during Public Comments to the LA City Council
Video of Dulce Vasquez, Former Los Angeles City Council Candidate speaking during Public Comments to the LA City Council
Video of Erinn Alcabes, Director of Events and Regional Director of Los Angeles speaking during Public Comments to the LA City Council
Video of Max Samarov, Director of Research and Strategy for StandWithUs speaking during Public Comments to the LA City Council
Video of Mher Hagopian, Victim of antisemitic terror in Los Angeles speaking during Public Comments to the LA City Council
Video of Sarah Polon, wife of a terror victim in Los Angeles speaking during Public Comments to the LA City Council
Video of Ernest Weiss, Holocaust Survivor speaking during Public Comments to the LA City Council
About StandWithUs StandWithUs (SWU) is an international, non-profit and non-partisan Israel education organization that works to inspire and educate people of all ages about Israel, as well as challenge misinformation and fight against antisemitism. Through university fellowships, high school internships, middle school curricula, conferences, materials, social media, educational films and missions to Israel, StandWithUs supports people around the world who want to educate their schools and communities about Israel. Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Los Angeles, the organization has chapters and programs throughout the U.S., in Israel, the UK, Canada, South Africa, Brazil, Australia and the Netherlands. For the last eleven years, SWU has consistently received the highest possible ratings from Charity Navigator (4 stars) and Guidestar (Platinum).