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StandWithUs Celebrates Growing Movement to Define and Combat Antisemitism

Los Angeles, CA -- February 27, 2023) -- StandWithUs thanks the State of Arkansas and Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders for signing SB 118 into law. We also extend congratulations to Georgia State Representative John Carson (R-Marietta) and Esther Panitch (D-Sandy Springs) for their work in getting House Bill 30 passed and to South Carolina's Representative Beth Bernstein (D-Richland County) for getting House Bill 3686 passed through their House of Representatives Committees. These bills seek to codify the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism. Georgia and South Carolina could soon join the ranks of the ten other states — including Virginia, which just passed HB 1606 — that have incorporated IHRA into law. HBs 30 and 3686 await final passage in their states’ Senate system.

These recent developments are indicative of a growing movement nationwide to define antisemitism, a precursor to combating it, as it festers throughout the country.

Jordan Cope, Director of Policy Education for StandWithUs, attended the signing ceremony for Arkansas Senate Bill (SB) 118. Cope previously testified as an expert in both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees on this bill. Jordan also met with the governor of South Carolina and helped educate members of the Georgia and South Carolina community as to the content of HBs 30 and 3686 and their greater context in the scheme of surging antisemitism. StandWithUs thanks IAC for Action, the National Jewish Advocacy Center, and the local Jewish Federations for their work on these bills.

(Left to right) Jordan Cope, StandWithUs Director of Policy Education, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Joseph Sabag, Executive Director, Israeli-American Coalition (IAC) for Action

In the U.S., cases of assault, harassment, vandalism against Jews, and online attacks have reached near-historic levels. Jewish students who openly express their religious, ethnic, or national identity often find themselves subject to discrimination, harassment, and worse. Both HB's 30 (GA) and 3686 (SC) seek to ensure that state officials will take into consideration the IHRA Definition when assessing whether an incident of unlawful antisemitic discrimination has occurred. Roughly 30 students from AEPi showed up in South Carolina on February 21 and appealed to local legislators to adopt IHRA and to listen to their experiences regarding antisemitism.

Jordan Cope commented on the necessity of defining antisemitism. “It is encouraging to see state after state adopt the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism at a time when antisemitism continues to run rife throughout America and the greater world. Historically, the world has struggled to address antisemitism due to its evolving nature. Codifying the IHRA Definition remains crucial to helping authorities realize how antisemitism manifests both classically and contemporarily while serving as an essential tool that will help standardize the fight against antisemitism.”

There has been confusion—sometimes intentional—about what adopting the IHRA Definition means. Neither of these bills nor the IHRA Definition creates a special non-discrimination class for Jewish people. The IHRA Definition is simply a guiding tool for how to identify antisemitism that may assist in the application of already-existing rules and laws where antisemitism may be involved.

HBs 30 and 3686 clarify 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, Justice, and State, governments of roughly 40 countries, the European Union, and the United Nations. The IHRA Definition has been supported by both Republican and Democrat presidential administrations.

Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs, commends the State of Arkansas and its lead sponsors for taking this important step in defeating antisemitism. “We know that current understanding of antisemitism is insufficient without a clear definition. We need other governors, state and local legislators, and organizations to adopt the IHRA Definition to help identify, report, and combat antisemitism.”

Importantly, adopting the IHRA Definition does not infringe upon First Amendment (free speech) rights. People still have their 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.

Watch Governor Sanders Sign the Bill HERE

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, South Africa, Brazil, and the Netherlands.

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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