Santa Fe, New Mexico - August 16, 2022
StandWithUs praises New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, who issued an Executive Order adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism for state agencies. Jordan Cope, Director of Policy Education for StandWithus attended the signing ceremony held August 16 at the governor's residence.
In adopting the IHRA Definition, Governor Grisham assumes a position as one of the national leaders in the fight against what many have called “the oldest hate.”
The Executive Order recognizes that the dangerous virus of antisemitism has emerged again around the globe, including in the United States with cases of assault, harassment, and vandalism against Jews, as well as online attacks, at near-historic levels. American Jews feel more vulnerable than ever before. Jewish community members and students—especially those who wear Jewish symbols, support Israel’s existence, and refuse to reject their religious, ethnic, and/or national identity—often find themselves subject to marginalization, discrimination, harassment and worse. The Executive Order mandates that the New Mexico Executive Department adopt and use the IHRA Definition as a guideline. When "a violation of law occurs, state agencies will consider IHRA when making an assessment as to whether the discrimination was motivated by antisemitic intent." The IHRA Definition will also be "an educational tool in discrimination and anti-bias training for state officials." Jordan Cope commented on the necessity of defining antisemitism. "Because antisemitism mutates over time, it is sometimes difficult to identify. Anti-Jewish bigotry was once focused on the religion of Jews, vilifying them for various aspects of their religious beliefs. Then antisemitism changed to focus on the notion of race, demonizing Jews for being inferior to “pure-white” Aryans. More recently, antisemitism is also connected to the State of Israel, demonizing the country perceived as the Jewish collective much like older forms of antisemitism focus on the individual Jew. Because antisemitism comes in many forms, people may have no idea when they are witnessing— or even engaging in—antisemitism." Executive Order aims to clarify the confusion about what antisemitism is by adopting a definition that was drafted by leading world experts to express the needs of the victims rather than the biases of the perpetrators. It has been adopted or endorsed by over 850 governments, institutions, and organizations, including the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Departments of Education, Justice, and State, governments of over 30 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 Governor Grisham 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 organization to adopt the IHRA Definition to help identify, report, and combat antisemitism.” There has been confusion-sometimes intentional-about what the adoption of the IHRA Definition means. Neither the Executive Order 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. Importantly, adopting the IHRA Definition does not infringe upon First Amendment (free speech) rights. It does not require or prohibit any speech at all. Like any definition in a dictionary, it is a tool for identifying antisemitism, not silencing or punishing any type of speech. Leaders and institutions will continue to 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 cases of antisemitism does not violate anyone’s constitutional rights because no one has a right to be free from criticism for promoting hate. About StandWithUs StandWithUs is an international, nonprofit, and non-partisan Israel education organization that works to inspire and educate people of all ages about Israel, 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 on seven continents, including the U.S., Israel, UK, Canada, South Africa, Brazil, and Australia. For the last eleven years, StandWithUs has consistently received the highest possible ratings from Charity Navigator (4-stars) and GuideStar (Platinum). standwithus.com and facebook. com/standwithus and twitter. com/standwithus and instagram. com/standwithus.