States Are Adopting the IHRA Definition to Combat Antisemitism

February 9, 2024

States Are Adopting the IHRA Definition to Combat Antisemitism

Since October 7, there has been a horrifying 388 percent increase in antisemitic incidents in the US. After months of strong advocacy and hard work by Hadassah members, Georgia, South Dakota and Indiana recently advanced laws formally adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, a crucial tool in combating the alarming rise in antisemitism.

The IHRA is an intergovernmental organization that promotes collaboration around issues related to the Holocaust and urges governments and organizations around the world to adopt a consolidated definition of antisemitism. The definition includes key ideas such as the harmful or hateful perception of Jews and both rhetorical and physical indications that impact people, communities and institutions. Importantly, through its examples, the IHRA definition makes clear that anti-Zionism is a form of antisemitism.

Georgia: Representative and Hadassah Life Member Esther Panitch, the only Jewish person elected to Georgia’s state legislature, authored a bill to incorporate the IHRA definition into state law. Hadassah members were essential in advocating for the bill, which recently passed the House and Senate and was signed by Governor Brian Kemp.

"I am so proud of all of the Hadassah advocates who showed up to the capitol early and often to proudly and prominently support HB 30. I know we made a real difference by being there. We are all thrilled for the support our Jewish community received from Governor Brian Kemp and the House and Senate, who voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill," said Simone Wilker, Zionist Affairs Chair of Hadassah Greater Atlanta.

South Dakota: Representatives in the South Dakota House passed the IHRA definition, reflecting their sustained support for the Jewish community. Hadassah Associate Stephen Rosenthal testified before the House Judiciary Committee to express the urgent need for this legislation to properly combat and address all forms of antisemitism. The legislation passed and was signed into law by Governor Kristi Noem. Hadassah members from all over have encouraged monumental change in South Dakota, including through their outreach to Governor Noem, which also resulted in an executive proclamation denouncing antisemitism and supporting the definition.

Florida: The Florida legislature unanimously approved legislation adopting the IHRA definition of Antisemitism in February. The bill has now advanced to the Governor’s office for signature.

Indiana: A new bill aimed to counter antisemitism in public education, mainly higher education, advanced from an Indiana House committee with unanimous support. The bill now goes to the full House chamber for a vote. In 2023, a similar bill was swiftly passed in the House but did not make it to the Senate. Jews and non-Jews provided powerful testimony, particularly about the impact of October 7 on the rise of antisemitism and anti-Zionism.  

Other States Around the Country: Other states, including Florida and New Jersey, have plans to pursue action related to the IHRA definition during the current legislative session. Over 30 states, including New York, Texas and Ohio, as well as the District of Columbia, have already passed measures enacting the IHRA definition, and Hadassah members have played a vital role in making that happen.

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