(Atlanta, Georgia - January 24, 2024) - The Georgia Senate gallery broke out in a standing ovation when HB 30, which codifies the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism passed by an overwhelming 44-6 vote. HB 30 passed the House earlier that day in a 129-5 vote. The bill ensures that Georgia will consider the IHRA definition when enforcing anti-discrimination laws and determining whether crimes suspected of antisemitic bias warrant enhanced penalties. HB 30 now awaits the governor’s signature.
StandWithUs thanks leading sponsors, Representatives John Carson and Esther Panitch, Senator John Kennedy, and former Senator Judson Hill for helping move this hallmark bipartisan legislation to fruition. StandWithUs also thanks its partners in the IAC for Action, the Israeli American Council, the National Jewish Advocacy Center, the Atlanta JCRC, and the many other organizations who helped lead Capitol Day on January 25, 2024, and rally Georgia in support of HB 30. Georgia now joins a growing portfolio of over 30 states to have adopted the IHRA definition.
Jordan Cope, StandWithUs’ Director of Policy Education, who attended Capitol Day and attended the vote today together with Adam Blue, SWU Educator, 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. Georgia’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.”
High school and college students, who attended to speak to their state representatives and senators about the hostile and threatening environment they face in this new storm of antisemitism, cheered the vote. Yacov Shuman, StandWithUs Kenneth Leventhal High School Intern stated, "Being here today means I'm doing everything I can, even as a high school student, to ensure the safety and security of the Jewish people against antisemitism." Matthew Colon, another StandWithUs Leventhal Intern, praised the vote. "This vote is a gateway to dismantling antisemitism."
The decision to oppose antisemitism in Georgia was a multi-faith effort. Pastor Matrilla Hall, Faith to Grace Ministries, attended Capitol Day for IHRA. Hall felt compelled to join the effort against antisemitism because "As a Black Pastor, I am reminded of the civil rights movement, when Black and White, Jew and Gentile, unified to do what is just." The bill was also supported by three Georgia Hindu organizations because antisemitism is not just a Jewish problem.
There has been confusion—sometimes intentional—about what adopting the IHRA d definition means. Neither HB 30 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.
HB 30 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 1,100 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.
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.
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