IHRA definition establishes that anti-Jewish bias can include anti-Israel bias

Gov. Kemp Signing HB 30 – On far left IAC CEO Elan Carr, standing in the white coat to the right is bill co-sponsor Rep. Esther Panitch
 ATLANTA, GA, Jan. 31 – In the face of skyrocketing antisemitism across the country, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp today signed into law a bill making the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism the state’s official definition of anti-Jewish bias and discrimination. The Georgia House of Representatives and Senate passed the bipartisan bill HB30 by overwhelming margins. This makes Georgia the 11th state to codify the IHRA definition for use in assessing possible cases of antisemitic crime and discrimination. An additional 23 states have endorsed the definition through legislative resolutions or executive proclamations.The Israeli-American Council (IAC), and its legislative and policy-making sister organization, the Israeli-American Coalition for Action (IAC For Action), praised the Georgia General Assembly for adopting the IHRA definition by margins of 44 to 6 in the Senate and 129 to 5 in the House, and thanked Gov. Kemp for supporting and quickly ratifying the bill.“We applaud Gov. Kemp and the Georgia Legislature for taking a bold stand against antisemitic and national origin discrimination,” said IAC For Action Board Chairman Shawn Evenhaim. “By acting today, Georgia is protecting their citizens against anti-Jewish bias and hatred, which has been at crisis levels since Oct. 7th. We would especially like to thank HB30’s sponsors, Rep. John Carson — who has carried this bill for the past 3 years — and Rep. Esther Panitch, for their unwavering support in championing this initiative. IAC for Action has been proud to work with these legislators to resource this effort and bring the community together.”

Georgia Capitol Day 1/25/2024 Photo credit: Lihee Freeman 

Representative John Carson, the bill’s primary sponsor, said, “This bill is an important victory for Georgia and the values of our state. Passing this bill was a three year effort defined by persistence and determination. I want to thank my friends at IAC for Action for their expert support, particularly attorney Joe Sabag, who helped lead the formation of Georgia’s anti-BDS law in 2016 and developed this IHRA bill.“I also want to thank IAC Chairman Emeritus Naty Saidoff for having given me the opportunity to visit Israel and learn more about the problem of global antisemitism,” added Rep. Carson. “It has been a pleasure to get to know the Israeli-American community of Georgia, and I was honored to participate in their local gala and to attend IAC’s annual summit last year.”

Bill Sponsors Rep. John Carson and Rep. Esther Panitch

The IHRA definition of antisemitism has broad consensus throughout the United States, across the world, and among Jewish organizations. Over 1,200 national, state, and local governments and major public entities have endorsed the IHRA definition in recent years, among them 8 federal agencies, including the U.S. Departments of State, Education, and Justice. It has also been endorsed by 51 of the 53 member organizations of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.Through the “contemporary examples” of antisemitism included therewith, the IHRA definition captures both traditional forms of Jew hatred and the form that targets Zionism and the State of Israel. While expressly stating that criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country is not antisemitic, the IHRA definition’s examples of antisemitism do capture delegitimization, demonization, and the application of double standards to the Jewish state. Since the massacre of Israelis by Hamas on Oct. 7th, antisemitic incidents have tripled in America relative to the same period last year, and anti-Israel or anti-Zionist prejudice comprises an increasingly large portion of those acts. 2,031 antisemitic incidents were recorded in the U.S. between Oct. 7th and Dec. 7th, 2023, including 250 incidents specifically targeting Jewish institutions such as synagogues, Hillels and Jewish fraternities. For example, in October, the Jewish fraternity AEPi’s Emory chapter was targeted for vandalism with anti-Israel graffiti. IAC for Action’s executive director, Joe Sabag, said, “HB30 is a major step forward for equal protection for Jewish Georgians. Without the IHRA definition, our community was suffering a civil rights deficit, where perpetrators of antisemitic crime and discrimination would target Jews and Jewish institutions and then hide behind the false pretense that they were motivated by anti-Israel politics and not anti-Jewish bigotry. We are grateful to Gov. Kemp and Rep. John Carson for his enduring commitment to this issue, and to the work of co-sponsor Rep. Esther Panitch and the 2022 co-sponsor, Rep. Mike Wilensky. We’d also like to acknowledge and thank House Majority Leader Chuck Efstration, Senate Majority Leader Steve Gooch, and Senate President Pro Tempore John Kennedy. Today’s ratification of HB30 is a great step forward for Georgia.”

Gov. Brian Kemp at podium and IAC CEO Elan Carr to the right.

Elan Carr, IAC’s CEO and former U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, stated, “Rising Jew-hatred is a threat to all Americans, and Georgians today should feel deeply proud of what their government is doing to confront this scourge. The great State of Georgia has made the clearest possible statement that we’re going to identify, confront, and call out antisemitism, and when it rises to the level of a crime or discrimination, we’re going to use the full force of the law to rout it out. I salute Gov. Kemp and Reps. Carson and Panitch for their leadership in fighting for justice during these troubled times.”

From left to right: First Lady of Georgia Marty Kemp, Governor of Georgia Brian Kemp, IAC CEO Elan Carr
From left to right: IAC Atlanta Sharon Freeman, HB30 Bill Sponsor Rep. John Carson, IAC CEO Elan Carr, IAC Atlanta Activism Levavit Cohen, IAC For Action Executive Director Joe Sabag, IAC Atlanta Regional Director Shaked Angel