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Breaking! North Carolina passes Shalom Act to fight antisemitism

Updated: Jun 27

(Raleigh, NC, June 26, 2024) -- The North Carolina Senate passed 45-2 the Shalom (Standing Up To Hate And Leading with Our Moral Principles) Act, HB942 on June 26, 2024.  The Shalom Act ensures that North Carolina state agencies adopt the International Holocaust Memorial Alliance, IHRA, Definition as a tool for training, educating, recognizing, and combating antisemitic hate crimes and discrimination. 


Jonah Rubin, UNC Chapel Hill SWU Emerson Fellow with NC Governor Roy Cooper
Jonah Rubin, UNC Chapel Hill SWU Emerson Fellow with NC Governor Roy Cooper

The legislation is meant to push back against the dangerous rise in antisemitism across the U.S., including North Carolina. As with other states, North Carolina universities have been a major front of antisemitism. The University of North Carolina  received an F grade regarding its ability to protect Jewish students. Recent reports also indicate that antisemitic incidents have skyrocketed by 78 percent compared to last year.

 

The North Carolina House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (105-4) for the SHALOM ACT (HB­942). This important legislation is an essential first step to fighting antisemitism by defining it. StandWIthUs commends the bill champions House Speaker Tim Moore, the lead sponsor, Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, Senator Bill Rabon, Senator Bobby Hang, and Rep Jason Saine.Jewish and non-Jewish organizations mobilized in support of the legislation with dozens of students offering testimony about their experiences with antisemitism on campus and in high school.  Jonah Rubin- StandWithUs Emerson Fellow at UNC Chapel Hill, said “I am grateful for the NC legislators who listened to students’ concerns and took decisive action.


Pastor Dumisani Washington, Institute of Black Solidarity with Israel, , addressed the legislators stressing how antisemitism is not just a Jewish problem, but a hate which corrodes the entire society. Proponents of the bill include IAC for Action, the Jewish Federation, the National Jewish Advocacy Center, NC Voice4Israel, and  North Carolina Coalition for Israel.


There has been confusion—sometimes intentional—about what adopting the IHRA definition means. Neither HB 9421 nor the IHRA definition creates a special non-discrimination class for Jewish people. The IHRA definition is simply a guiding tool for identifying antisemitism that may assist in the application of already-existing laws where antisemitism may be involved.       


House Speaker Tim Moore said the bill does not create any new criminal penalties related to antisemitism, as state laws against “ethnic intimidation” already exist. But it provides a clear definition of antisemitism for prosecutors and law enforcement.”

Roz Rothstein, StandWithUs CEO,’ observed, “With antisemitism having exploded worldwide post-October 7, the IHRA definition remains a tool of paramount importance for helping identify and quell the mounting tide of antisemitism. North Carolina’s moral clarity on this matter sets a clear example from which other states ought to draw inspiration as Jews around the world desperately seek assurances of their own safety.” 

 

HB 942 clarifies confusion about what antisemitism is, by adopting a definition that was drafted by leading world experts to express the needs of antisemitism victims. The IHRA definition has been adopted or endorsed by over 1,200 governments, institutions, and organizations, including the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Departments of Education and State, governments of roughly 40 countries, etc. The IHRA definition has been supported by both Republican and Democrat presidential administrations.


Importantly, adopting the IHRA definition does not infringe upon First Amendment (free speech) rights. People still have their own free speech rights and responsibilities to condemn incidents of hatred and bigotry, and even use them as teachable moments. Referencing the IHRA definition to confront antisemitism does not violate anyone’s constitutional rights—no one has a right to be free from criticism after promoting hate.  


The bill awaits the signature of Gov. Roy Cooper.


About StandWithUs 

 

StandWithUs (SWU) is an international, nonprofit, 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., Israel, the UK, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, the Netherlands and Australia. 

 

For the last eleven years, StandWithUs has consistently received the highest possible ratings from Charity Navigator and GuideStar, two charity watchdog groups that assess hundreds of thousands of charities in the United States. 

 

 

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