The Republic of Panama has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, drawing praise from Jewish leaders and groups in the US.
The Panamanian government held a ceremony commemorating the decision on Tuesday at its Ministry of Foreign Affairs in which foreign affairs minister Janaina Tewaney Mencomo delivered a resolution formally declaring the decision to Organization of American States (OAS) Commissioner to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Fernando Lottenberg.
The measure says, according to a Spanish language news outlet based in Tel Aviv, that “antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews that can be expressed as hatred of Jews” and that “the physical and rhetorical manifestations of antisemitism are directed at Jewish or non-Jewish persons and/or their property, the institutions of Jewish communities and their places of worship.”
Panama pledged to adopt the definition last September at the Central America-Israel Forum, an event organized by Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) — a nonprofit that fights antisemitism across the globe — and held at the Latin American Parliament in Panama, to strengthen Israel’s relationship with Central American countries.
“This is an important step taken by the Panamanian Government, and one which will be vital in fighting antisemitism and hate,” CAM CEO Sacha Roytman said on Wednesday in a press release. “Acceptance of the IHRA definition is continuing apace globally, almost a quarter of all nations have now accepted and adopted it, with hopefully more on the way.”
Center for Jewish Impact (CIJ), a nongovernmental organization based in Tel Aviv, noted that Panama is now the seventh Latin American country to adopt the definition and the 42 country in the world overall. “Applause to Panama for taking a step in the global fight against antisemitism,” it tweeted on Wednesday. Roz Rothstein, CEO of educational nonprofit StandWithUs, tweeted, “Thank you Panama for adopting IHRA. ‘Define antisemitism to defeat antisemitism!’”
78 governmental and nonprofit organizations adopted the IHRA definition during the first six months of 2023, according to a new report CAM issued earlier this month.
First embraced in 2005 by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, it includes a list of illustrative examples ranging from Holocaust denial to the rejection of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination. The definition is used by hundreds of governing institutions, including the US State Department, the European Union, and the United Nations, and is supported by lawmakers across the political spectrum.
With this year’s additions to the list, CAM said, the IHRA definition is now used by 1,192 entities, a number “illustrating the widespread acceptance and utilization of this definition.” North Dakota and Arkansas became the latest US states to adopt it earlier this year, and Virginia did so in February at the recommendation of a state commission created by Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) to study antisemitism in the state. Others that joined the list include the Latin American Parliament, Westchester County in New York State, the City Council of Kansas, Missouri, and the Province of Jujuy in Argentina. Many universities did as well, with University of Melbourne in Australia, University of Split in Croatia, and Catholic University of Santa María la Antigua in Panama named in the report.