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‘Proud to support Israel,’ Noem signs bill adopting IHRA definition in South Dakota law

“I am very proud to sign this historic bill to keep our Jewish people secure,” Gov. Kristi Noem. “I hope more states will follow our leadership.”

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (seated) signs a bill codifying the IHRA working definition of antisemitism into state law on March 6, 2024 at the State capitol in Pierre. Credit: Courtesy.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (seated) signs a bill codifying the IHRA working definition of antisemitism into state law on March 6, 2024 at the State capitol in Pierre. Credit: Courtesy.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, signed HB 1076, which requires the state to consider “the definition of antisemitism when investigating unfair or discriminatory practices,” into law on Wednesday

“Ever since the horrific terrorist attacks on the State of Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, we have seen a shocking spike in antisemitic acts of hatred around the world, including some isolated incidents right here in South Dakota,” Noem stated. “I am very proud to sign this historic bill to keep our Jewish people secure. I hope more states will follow our leadership.”

Israel Katz, the Israeli minister of foreign affairs, commended Noem, whom he called “a true friend of Israel,” for “her decision to join 33 other states in the United States and adopt the IHRA definition which considers anti-Zionism as antisemitism, as an official law in her state.”

Since Oct. 7, “we see the hatred of Jews and the support for Hamas’s horrific acts of terror as a modern form of Jew-hatred. They want to destroy the State of Israel because they want to destroy the Jewish people,” Katz wrote.

“We are working with other states to adopt the definition and call on all other states in the United States to adopt the definition of the International Task Force for the Preservation of the Memory of the Holocaust,” he added.

Elan Carr, CEO of the Israeli-American Council and former U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, said that South Dakota “is making a powerful statement that the evil of Jew-hatred has no place in our state or our country,” by adopting and implementing “the global standard for defining antisemitism.”

“Given the horrors of Oct. 7 and the appalling rise of anti-Jewish violence and discrimination since this could not have come at a more important time,” Carr added.

Mark Goldfeder, director of the National Jewish Advocacy Center, said that South Dakota “has sent a clear message that there is no place for hate in this state.”

“If a Jewish child in South Dakota is going to be more safe and more protected, it’s going to be because we did here today,” added Rabbi Mendel Alperowitz, of the Chabad Jewish Center of South Dakota.

The bill, in part, states: “The term ‘antisemitism’ has the same meaning as the working definition of antisemitism adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance on May 26, 2016, including the contemporary examples of antisemitism identified therein.”

Three of the contemporary examples are “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,” “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” and “holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.”

Sacha Roytman, CEO of the Combat Antisemitism Movement, called Noem a “cherished friend of the Jewish people.”

“All over the world, Jewish communities are facing a surge of antisemitism unprecedented in the post-WWII era, and this bill is a tangible step to help stem that tide,” Roytman said.

Jordan Cope, director of policy education at StandWithUs, said that the IHRA working definition “remains a tool of paramount importance for helping identify and quell the mounting tide of antisemitism.”

“South Dakota’s moral clarity on this matter sets a clear example from which other states ought to draw inspiration as Jews around the world desperately seek assurances of their own safety,” he said.

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