The Jerusalem Post

Texas adopts iHRa antisemiti­sm definition

Lone Star State becomes first in US to ratify Holocaust Remembranc­e Alliance directive


The governor of Texas signed into state law the establishm­ent of a state commission to monitor antisemiti­sm, using the definition of antisemiti­sm drawn up by the Internatio­nal Holocaust Remembranc­e Alliance organizati­on.

“Over the past several years we have seen a disturbing rise in antisemiti­sm as Americans of the Jewish faith are one of the most targeted faith groups in America,” Greg Abbott said on Thursday at the signing ceremony for the legislatio­n. “Antisemiti­sm has surged even more this past year following the conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. We have a duty as Texans and Americans to combat antisemiti­sm whenever or however it arises.”

The IHRA definition has been adopted by 29 countries, the EU, and numerous local government­s and institutio­ns around the world, as a way to clearly define antisemiti­sm in order to accurately monitor its prevalence.

Texas became the first US state to adopt the IHRA definition, and other states are also advancing similar legislatio­n. It’s new antisemiti­sm commission will produce biennial studies on antisemiti­sm in Texas, work with schools and institutio­ns of higher educations to develop effective methods to combat antisemiti­sm, and implement Holocaust and genocide courses of study and awareness programs.

Jewish organizati­ons welcomed the signing into law of the bill.

“Texas, whose Senate and House of Representa­tives approved the legislatio­n with nearly unanimous bipartisan support (no legislator­s voted against the bills), sets an example for the rest of the country by joining the growing global coalition of countries, major cities, and institutio­ns that have rallied behind this key instrument in addressing the urgent threat of antisemiti­sm,” said the leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizati­ons.

The American Jewish Committee also praised the passage of the bill, saying its approval was timely given the recent surge in antisemiti­c incidents in the US.

“Given the sharp uptick in antisemiti­sm across America, we are gratified that this legislatio­n has received overwhelmi­ngly bipartisan support,” said Joel Schwitzer, director of AJC Dallas.

Critics of the IHRA definition focus on its inclusion of examples determinin­g that antisemiti­sm includes “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor,” applying double standards to Israel’s actions, drawing comparison­s of contempora­ry Israeli policy to that of the Nazis, and holding Jews collective­ly responsibl­e for actions of the state of Israel.

Such critics have argued that the IHRA definition therefore stifles free speech and suppresses debate on Israel.

Advocates for the IHRA definition have pointed out that it explicitly states that manifestat­ions of antisemiti­sm “might include” targeting of the state of Israel, and that criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country “cannot be regarded as antisemiti­c.”

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