update deskAntisemitism

Indiana state Senate committee scrubs IHRA from Jew-hatred bill

"This essentially gutted the bill we wrote and leaves Jews without equal protection,” said Allon Friedman, president of the Jewish Affairs Committee of Indiana.

The Indiana House of Representatives chambers in Indianapolis in March 2022. Credit: Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock.
The Indiana House of Representatives chambers in Indianapolis in March 2022. Credit: Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock.

The word “antisemitism” refers “to the May 26, 2016, working definition of antisemitism adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, which states that: ‘Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.'”

So read the Jan. 11 version of House Bill 1002 in the Indiana state Senate. The bill also included the contemporary examples appended to the IHRA working definition of Jew-hatred, including ” denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

But when the Indiana Senate Committee on Education and Career Development was done marking up the bill, IHRA had gone AWOL.

The committee’s version, which it approved by a 12-0 vote, on Wednesday, now reads: “Antisemitism means a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.”

The new version also deletes, “The term: (1) includes contemporary examples of antisemitism included in the May 26, 2016, working definition of antisemitism; and (2) does not include criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country.”

It also deletes other references to the IHRA definition.

“We’ve made some changes to try to ensure that we’re not referencing outside entities, but that we’re making the definition our own in the code,” said Chris Jeter, the Republican state representative who authored the bill.

“The bill really tries to strike a balance of not impeding on any free speech, but just saying if we fund state education, we want that education to reflect our values as a body,” Jeter added, as reported in the Indiana Capital Chronicle.

“We wanted to be careful about referencing sort of outside groups because if their definition changes, we don’t want anybody to impose that ours is supposed to be changed,” he said.

It wasn’t clear—at a time when charges of plagiarism are rocking higher education, including high-profile allegations against the former president of Harvard University—if the Indiana Senate education committee was concerned about having scrubbed references to IHRA but continued to use verbatim language from the organization.

Jeter told JNS that Jewish students “need and deserve to feel safe and welcome in our schools, and there is no place for antisemitism in our state.”

“While I prefer the House passed version of House Bill 1002, there is still time left on the clock to make necessary changes,” the representative told JNS. “I’ll continue working with my Senate colleagues to pursue changes to ensure we capture the intent of the bill, including the reference to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.”

“I’m extremely disappointed that the amendment that passed did not include reference to the IHRA statement. This essentially gutted the bill we wrote and now leaves Jews without equal protection,” said Allon Friedman, president of the Jewish Affairs Committee of Indiana, as quoted in the Capital Chronicle.

“This is essentially abandonment of the Indiana Jewish community and unwittingly rewards our enemies,” added Friedman, whose organization helped craft the bill. “The Jewish community is absolutely united on this issue—we do not want the bill without IHRA.”

The Senate will vote on the bill, as amended.

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