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StandWithUs Disappointed with Georgia Senate for Stalling HB 144 AGAINST ANTISEMITISM

Updated: Mar 31, 2023

(Atlanta, Georgia - March 29, 2023) — On March 29, 2023, the Georgia Senate adjourned, letting HB 144 expire, after multiple attempts in the Senate to halt its progress by offering hostile amendments. HB 144 would have adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism into Georgia code and ensure that state officials better identify acts of unlawful discrimination and hate crimes motivated by antisemitism, an initiative overwhelmingly supported by the House. Instead of passing HB 144, the Senate became subject to a disinformation campaign targeting the foundation of the bill’s essence: the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism. As certain senators subsequently sought to “split the baby” with the bill’s detractors, they sought to gut the IHRA definition from its text. This proposed amendment would have materially altered the legislation to a point that the Jewish community and its allies could no longer support. StandWithUs expresses its disappointment with the Georgia Senate to embody the necessary moral clarity at a time when antisemitism continues to escalate. Jews comprise 2.4 percent of the US population yet suffer nearly 60 % of all religiously motivated hate crimes. Roughly 45 Jewish organizations—which represent over 90 percent of Georgia’s Jewish population—called for the IHRA definition to be codified into law because they feel it can be helpful to counter the rising anti-Jewish bigotry that we are witnessing. Antisemitism is on the rise in Georgia; and unless we adequately define it, we can't defeat it. The IHRA Definition of Antisemitism is the gold standard definition for antisemitism, being supported by the Jewish community at large and having been adopted by over 1,100 entities worldwide, including countries, universities, the US Department of Education and other agencies. The Jewish community knows best how to define antisemitism, having experienced its evolving manifestations and consequences over the last 2500 years. The IHRA definition remains essential to an ongoing nationwide campaign by the mainstream Jewish community to define and standardize the fight against antisemitism. Eleven states have now incorporated the IHRA definition into law, whereas over 20 states have adopted it by executive proclamation or resolution. While there is progress, there is much work to be done. It is no surprise that amidst this rising tide of antisemitism, extremist groups—such as the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Jewish Voice for Peace—have joined forces to thwart efforts to define and combat antisemitism. Antisemites frequently hope to keep antisemitism undefined and under-defined so that they cannot be held accountable for their bigotry. CAIR’s true colors surfaced when it proactively defended one of its executive directors, Zahra Billoo, after she urged an audience to “pay attention” to Jewish organizations and then characterized Jewish Zionist organizations as “enemies.” CAIR’s National Executive Director, Nihad Awad, opposes Israel’s existence, having dreamed that Hamas’s violent jihad will liberate “all of Palestine.” Note that the reference to "All of Palestine" includes all of Israel. Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) notably promotes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions [BDS] campaign, which seeks an end to the world’s only Jewish state. Clearly, neither CAIR nor JVP deserve a say at the table when it comes to discussing antisemitism and Jewish welfare because they exemplify the problem that Jews are facing today. The Georgia Senate’s efforts to try to “split the baby” with these extremists unfortunately signifies its inability to distinguish between the many rational actors who represent both the good faith interests and concerns of Georgia’s greater Muslim and Jewish communities, and extremist groups who promote antisemitic causes. StandWithUs hopes that the Georgia Senate will better realize the concerns of the Jewish community in Georgia when it next seeks to codify the IHRA definition and will hopefully be better prepared to disregard misleading appeals by those who seek to grant immunity to antisemites. 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., in Israel, the UK, Canada, South Africa, Brazil and the Netherlands. For the last eleven years, SWU 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. www.standwithus.com and www.facebook.com/standwithus and www.twitter.com/standwithus and www.instagram.com/standwithus.com


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