IAC for Action 2023 Year in Review

Dear friends,
We move into 2024 still raw from the atrocities of Oct. 7th, and with prayers in our hearts for the brave IDF troops who are putting themselves in harm’s way to eliminate the jihadist threat in Gaza and rescue the hostages held there. The number of IDF killed in action to date stands at 334 from Oct. 7th, plus an additional 164 since Oct. 7th through Dec. 27th.

Here in the U.S., we are still in shock from the outbreak of antisemitic violence and incitement in our city streets, at local town halls, and on U.S. campuses, from grade school through college.

In the period between Oct. 7th and Dec. 7th of this year, 2,031 antisemitic incidents were recorded – a 300% spike compared to the same period last year. These included public threats to rape and slit Jews’ throats, made by a student at Cornell;  a teacher at a New York high school who had to lock herself in a classroom to protect herself from a violent mob of students; students at a Cooper Union College in New York who were barricaded inside the library by campus security to protect them from violent student protestors who were banging on the windows and shouting antisemitic slogans.


  • 40 cases of physical assault, 337 incidents of vandalism, 749 incidents of verbal or written harassment;
  • 905 anti-Israel hate rallies that included antisemitic rhetoric, expressions of support for Hamas and Oct. 7th as legitimate “Resistance”; calls for anti-Jewish violence (“intifada”); and for the destruction of the State of Israel “from the River to the Sea.”
  • 250 incidents specifically targeted Jewish institutions such as synagogues, Hillels and Jewish fraternities;
  • 400 antisemitic incidents on college campuses, compared to 33 during the same period last year;
  • An increase in vandalism of Jewish or Israeli-owned businesses

In our quest for civil rights protections enforcement, we are facing significant challenges. At Congressional hearings a few weeks ago, the Deans of Harvard, UPenn and MIT stated that hate rallies calling for violence against or genocide of Jews does not go against campus codes of conduct unless the rallies target particular students or are accompanied by violent conduct. The New York Times labeled this an antisemitic double standard and hypocrisy. According to a letter by 20 state attorneys general, anti-terrorism and civil rights laws that would protect our community are on the books already, but we have to fight for enforcement. We are seeking redress through the courts, through direct conversations, and by asking our legislators who control the public purse strings to demand action from school administrators.

On the Israel front, we are working to educate public officials on the strategic threats posed to the US and Israel. UN and nongovernmental institutions operating in Gaza, Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem have been using US, UN and European funds to promote antisemitism and antizionism. Until Israel takes action domestically to block those funds, we can strive to get US officials to demand more careful allocation of US funds at least, so that US taxpayer funds will not be used to perpetuate the war against Israel.
IHRA Legislation
In 2023 we resourced the adoption of the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism in Arkansas and New Hampshire. The IHRA Definition recognizes anti-Israel / antizionist hate and discrimination as a form of antisemitism that requires equal protection under civil rights law. We also resourced efforts in Georgia and South Carolina which both passed bills through their respective state Houses. Those bills will move to the Senate for next steps in January.

We also resourced the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents in the adoption and implementation of IHRA in their Code of Conduct Handbook, incident reporting, and training. 82% of US college students attend state schools, and NSHE’s 8 institutions serve approximately 130,000 students any given year. We hope to make NSHE’s action on this issue a role model for further expansion of IHRA in other states, but adoption is only the first hurdle. The challenge nationwide will continue to be enforcement.

Over the past 4 years, IAC for Action’s work and leadership led to a broader community effort to adopt IHRA, and to 33 states adopting or endorsing IHRA. This bottom-up legislative activity – creating a groundswell at the state legislative level to achieve a national public policy – in turn led to recent expansions of IHRA endorsement at the Federal level. This September the Biden Administration announced that 8 Federal Agencies would use IHRA to evaluate antisemitic discrimination. (Before that, the Departments of Education, Justice and State had used IHRA.)

On Oct. 30th, the Biden Administration reiterated its commitment to IHRA and instructed universities and law enforcement to utilize the IHRA definition in protecting Jewish college students from the antisemitic threats of anti-Israel activists. This is a major practical outcome that grew out of a hard-won policy achievement. Next we need to bring public pressure to bear at every level until we achieve full implementation and enforcement of the law.

Anti-BDS Legislation
In 2023 we resourced North Dakota in passing an anti-BDS law, making ND the 37th state to enact laws against discriminatory anti-Israel boycotts.  These laws not only protect Israe’s trade, they also protect local businesses from coercive bullying campaigns that seek to pressure them into joining the discriminatory boycott. The laws also protect local individuals from national origin discrimination.
Anti-BDS – Litigation
This year we also resourced the Texas and Arkansas Attorney General and Solicitor General’s offices for their successful defense against legal challenges that sought to strike down their respective state anti-BDS laws.

In A&R Engineering v Texas, the Texas anti-BDS law was upheld in the 5th Circuit US Court of Appeals. The Arkansas anti-BDS law was upheld through a 9-1 en banc decision against the plaintiff, The Arkansas Times, in the 8th Circuit in 2022, and that ruling was affirmed this year when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to accept the case for reconsideration. (IAC for Action’s Executive Director Joseph Sabag had resourced both states in the drafting and adoption of their anti-BDS laws.)

With these two victories, this year marked the first time since 2017 that there were no outstanding legal challenges to any anti-BDS law anywhere in the U.S. All state anti-BDS laws remain in place.

Since Joseph Sabag drafted the first of these laws in 2015 for South Carolina, they have provided an economic iron dome for US-Israel trade. They were used to reverse the antisemitic boycotts of Airbnb in 2018, Ben & Jerry’s / Unilever in 2022, and Morningstar’s blacklist of Israeli companies in 2023. They continue to have a strong deterrence effect on efforts to boycott and economically isolate Israel.

US-Israel Relations – Resolutions and Proclamations
In the wake of Oct. 7th, we worked with public officials and grass roots community to raise public, moral and diplomatic support for Israel. This resulted in numerous resolutions and proclamations, and ongoing efforts to provide diplomatic support and resupply to Israel during the ongoing war. (You can refer back to our October newsletter for greater detail.) These efforts are ongoing. America continues to be a strong ally of Israel, but there is a loud and vocal minority seeking to undermine that relationship, as we have seen by the efforts of a few in Congress to block America’s resupply of Israel and to block Congress’ condemnation of Hamas and of antisemitism generally.

We continue to resource our friends who are fighting the good fight, and we count on our grass roots supporters to continue to respond to our email action alerts. It strengthens the resolve and confidence of our elected officials when they hear from their constituents.

Civil Rights Protection Against Antisemitic Discrimination
Since Oct. 7th we have worked hard in various locales to resource community members, parents, and students to fight back against antisemitic hate rallies on campuses.
School administrators are often torn between obligations to defend First Amendment Freedoms and the obligation to maintain an environment free from bigotry, harassment, intimidation, and violence. Our challenge is that we need to educate our school administrators on one crucial fact: Unlawful and criminal conduct are not forms of protected speech. Furthermore, academic freedom is supposed to refer to the freedom to follow research to its logical conclusions. It is not meant to provide cover to intimidate, harass, assault or discriminate against vulnerable minorities.  
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevents discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in programs or activities that receive federal funding. Any institution receiving federal funds has an affirmative legal obligation to protect the rights of its students against discriminatory behavior, even if it comes from some students targeting other students. Speech crosses over from protected territory into harassing verbal conduct that is not protected by the First Amendment when it is “sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent so as to interfere with or limit the ability of an individual to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school or college.”
Additionally, the US Supreme Court precedent set in 1969 by the case of Tinker v. Des Moines, establishes campus administrators’ rights and obligations to prevent disruptions on campus.  The Court ruled that the Constitution allows for schools to shut down even speech if administrators can reasonably forecast that it will “materially and substantially interfere” with the “requirements of appropriate discipline” in the operation of the school” or “invad[es] the rights of others.” 
Our message to the community and to the schools: This is the standard that our schools must now vigilantly enforce.
In Conclusion
We enter 2024 with a massive fight on our hands. With the tools of legislation, litigation and enforcement of the law, we will take the fight to the enemy.

We thank you all for your ongoing support.

With deep appreciation for all of you,
and prayers for Am Yisrael and Medinat Yisrael,
Warmest regards,
IAC for Action