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South Dakota House passes bill using part of IHRA definition of Jew-hatred

“Hate in any form is wrong,” said state representative Mike Stevens. “My Christian values do not allow me to hate.”

The South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre. Credit: WeaponizingArchitecture via Wikimedia Commons.
The South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre. Credit: WeaponizingArchitecture via Wikimedia Commons.

The South Dakota state House passed HB 1076, which uses some of the language from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism but not its contemporary examples, by a vote of 53-14 earlier this week.

The bill heads next to the state Senate.

One of several contemporary examples of Jew-hatred that is part of the IHRA definition but which the South Dakota House did not adopt is, “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.”

“This bill is entirely about conduct,” said Fred Deutsch (R), a state representative. “This bill doesn’t limit a person or organization’s First Amendment right.”

“Hate in any form is wrong,” said state representative Mike Stevens (R), who opposed the bill in committee before voting for it. “My Christian values do not allow me to hate.”

Arielle Zionts, a rural health reporter for KFF Health News, recommended that South Dakota reporters cover the bill very skeptically. “Many human rights and civil liberty organizations, including Israeli ones, oppose it because they think it conflates legitimate criticism of Israel with antisemitism,” she wrote of the IHRA definition.

“This bill is largely inspired by the Hamas attack and ensuing antisemitic rhetoric violence around the world,” she claimed. “South Dakota might have the smallest Jewish population in the United States, but it’s now higher than stats cited in old articles.”

“The Hamas attack was also followed by rhetoric and violence against Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians,” she further claimed. “I have not heard about South Dakota lawmakers introducing a bill to define hatred against these groups, who are more numerous than Jews in South Dakota.”

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