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South Carolina Adopts IHRA to Fight Antisemitism

Updated: May 28

(Columbia, South Carolina - May 23, 2024) - Today, Governor McMaster signed into law HB 4042, which codifies the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, at an honorary signing ceremony attended by leaders and allies of the Jewish community. The bill ensures that South Carolina will consider the IHRA definition when enforcing anti-discrimination laws, policies, and regulations.

StandWithUs thanks Governor Henry McMaster and leading sponsors, Representative Beth Bernstein and Senator Larry Grooms, for helping move this hallmark bipartisan legislation to fruition. StandWithUs also thanks its partners, IAC for Action, the AEPi Chapter at the University of South Carolina, the Jewish Federations of South Carolina, the National Jewish Advocacy Center, the Philos Project and other organizations who helped lead Capitol Day on January 23, 2024, and rally South Carolina in support of HB 4042. South Carolina now joins a growing portfolio of over 30 states to have adopted the IHRA definition.


Darryl May, a South Carolina community leader representing StandWithUs at the signing ceremony, expressed gratitude for the legislature and governor incorporating the IHRA definition into South Carolina law. “With the adoption of IHRA, South Carolina has a critically important tool to identify and understand the complex ways in which antisemitism can manifest today. I am heartened that at this time of unprecedented antisemitism, our elected officials will understand that their constituents care about protecting the Jewish community and Israel.”


Jordan Cope, StandWithUs Director of Policy Education, who attended South Carolina Capitol Day in January, 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 as Jews around the world desperately seek assurances for their own safety. South Carolina’s moral clarity on this matter sets a clear example from which other states ought to draw inspiration.” 


There has been confusion—sometimes intentional—about what adopting the IHRA definition means. Neither HB 4042 nor the IHRA definition creates a special non-discrimination class for Jewish people. The IHRA definition is simply a guiding tool for identifying antisemitism in the application of already-existing laws where antisemitism may be involved.       

According to recent research, a third of Americans are either unsure of what antisemitism means or has never heard the term. To even begin to address the problem of antisemitism, there must be clarity about what it is. HB 4042 clarifies confusion about what antisemitism is by adopting a definition that was drafted by leading world experts to reflect the lived experience of Jewish people. The IHRA definition is the global consensus having been adopted or endorsed by over 1,100 governments, institutions, and organizations, including the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Departments of Education and State, and governments of about 40 countries. 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.



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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