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Indiana Senate Strips Leading Definition of Antisemitism From Anti-Discrimination Bill

Part of an exhibit on the Holocaust supported by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). Photo: courtesy of IHRA.

Lawmakers and Jewish leaders have lambasted the Indiana Senate’s removal of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which has been adopted by dozens of governments and hundreds of civic institutions around the world, from a bill that aims to abolish anti-Jewish hatred in public schools.

The decision, made by the Senate Education Committee, to exclude the definition from legislation that would define and ban antisemitism at Indiana’s public education institutions followed disagreement over whether IHRA’s 11 examples of antisemitism restrict free speech, local media in Indiana reported this week. Other voices argued specifically that the IHRA definition would squelch criticism of Israel.

The Senate on Tuesday passed a version of the bill without the IHRA examples by a vote of 42-6. The state House had easily passed House Bill 1002, with the widely accepted definition, two months ago. The legislation now heads back to the House  for final considerations.

“The Indiana Senate has contravened the bipartisan consensus of 35 other states and failed to protect Jewish students and faculty at Indiana’s public education institutions by passing HB 1002 without the IHRA working definition of antisemitism and its 11 examples,” the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) said in a statement. “Without it, authorities and schools lack the tools needed to monitor and effectively combat the rising antisemitism on campuses. We strongly urge the Indiana General Assembly to take the bill to a conference committee and incorporate the IHRA definition of antisemitism into legislation.”

IHRA, an intergovernmental organization comprised of dozens of countries including the US and Israel, adopted a non-legally binding “working definition” of antisemitism in 2016. Since then, the definition has been widely accepted by Jewish groups and well over 1,000 global entities, from countries to companies. The US State Department, the European Union, and the United Nations all use it.

According to the definition, antisemitism “is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

IHRA provides 11 specific, contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere. Beyond classic antisemitic behavior associated with the likes of the medieval period and Nazi Germany, the examples include denial of the Holocaust and newer forms of antisemitism targeting Israel such as demonizing the Jewish state, denying its right to exist, and holding it to standards not expected of any other democratic state.

Widely regard as the world’s leading definition of antisemitism, it was adopted by 97 governmental and nonprofit organizations in 2023, according to a report issued by the Combat Antisemitism Movement in January. Earlier this year, Georgia became the latest US state to pass legislation applying its guidance to state law. Other states of the 35 total to adopt the IHRA definition include Virginia, Texas, New York, and Florida.

On Wednesday, prominent voices who support using IHRA’s definition of antisemitism said its inclusion in Indiana’s bill is a necessity.

“Jewish Hoosiers should not be afraid to go to school due to the rise of antisemitism,” US Rep. Jim Baird (R-IN), who represents the state’s fourth congressional district, said on X/Twitter. “I urge the Indiana General Assembly to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism back into HB 1002. We cannot let our friends down.”

“It is unconscionable for the State of Indiana to enact House Bill 1002 without fixing the definition of antisemitism, which must reference IHRA,” Jacob Markey, executive director of the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, said in a statement. “We remain hopeful that the Indiana General Assembly will protect Jewish students in Indiana by returning House Bill 1002 to the House-passed version.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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University of Toronto seeks injunction to end protest encampment over ‘harmful, discriminatory’ speech outlined in court filing

The University of Toronto is now seeking a court injunction to put and end to the encampment in King’s College Circle after the 8 a.m. deadline passed Monday morning—while unionized workers joined students, faculty and other protesters at a rainy morning rally. Shortly after the ultimatum hour, the university announced in a statement from UofT […]

The post University of Toronto seeks injunction to end protest encampment over ‘harmful, discriminatory’ speech outlined in court filing appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Monday morning saw the Toronto community and politicians showing support for the Chabad girls’ school struck by weekend gunfire

Mayor Olivia Chow was among those who addressed the crowd.

The post Monday morning saw the Toronto community and politicians showing support for the Chabad girls’ school struck by weekend gunfire appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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‘A Call for Genocide’: South African Jews Blast Country’s President for Chanting ‘From the River to the Sea’

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Chatsworth, South Africa, May 18, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Rogan Ward

South African Jewish leaders castigated their country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, for what they described as him calling for a “genocide” against Jews in Israel over the weekend.

Ramaphosa was speaking at an election rally in Johannesburg on Saturday when he deviated from his prepared speech to lead the crowd in in a chant of “From the River to the Sea, Palestine shall be free” — a popular slogan among anti-Israel activists that has been widely interpreted as a call for the destruction of the Jewish state, which is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

The address took place at FNB Stadium, where South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) held its final rally before South African elections on Wednesday. According to Politicsweb, a news website focused on South Africa, a call for the release of the “hostages held in Gaza” who Hamas terrorists kidnapped from southern Israel on Oct. 7 appeared in Ramaphosa’s prepared remarks but not in his final speech.

The South African Jewish community lambasted Ramaphosa for his remarks in a statement shared with The Algemeiner, expressing “its revulsion at the introduction of a call to exterminate Jews from their homeland” by the president.

“The president of the ruling ANC party and the head of state of a democratic country has called for the elimination of the only Jewish state in the culmination of the ANC president’s election speech made to thousands of ANC members and on national television,” said Wendy Kahn, national director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD). “He uses the populist slogan ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be Free,’ which is widely regarded as a call to genocide of the Jewish people. The call to remove all Jews from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea equates to removing all Jews from Israel.”

Kahn compared the slogan with Hamas’ goal to “see Israel as ‘Judenfrei,’ or Jew free,” before noting that such an endpoint contradicts the South African government’s stated policy of supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The chanting of this slogan by a head of state of a government that recurrently tries to express their commitment to a ‘two-state Solution’ as their policy on Israel and Palestine is hypocritical to the full,” the SAJBD said. “How does a sitting president reject his own government and own party’s international relations policy? This reconfirms our understanding that President Ramaphosa and his government are not looking for a peaceful solution to the tragic conflict, but rather to cause discord among fellow South Africans against its Jewish community.”

Kahn added, “The president’s contempt for South African Jewry is evident in this unscripted outburst at the rally which amounts to nothing more than Jew hatred. The SAJBD is reviewing its options for holding the president accountable for these hateful words.”

South Africa’s ANC government has been one of the harshest critics of Israel since Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists launched the ongoing war in Gaza with their invasion of and massacre across southern Israeli communities.

South Africa temporarily withdrew its diplomats from Israel and shuttered its embassy in Tel Aviv shortly after the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom, saying that the Pretoria government was “extremely concerned at the continued killing of children and innocent civilians” in Gaza.

In December, South Africa hosted two Hamas officials who attended a government-sponsored conference in solidarity with the Palestinians. One of the officials had been sanctioned by the US government for his role with the terrorist organization.

Earlier this month, members of South Africa’s Jewish community protested Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor’s recent call for students and university leaders to intensify the anti-Israel demonstrations that have engulfed college campuses across the US.

In January, the South African government failed in its bid to argue before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Israel’s defensive war in Gaza constituted a “genocide.” However, the top UN court last week ordered Israel to halt its military operations against the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. The emergency ruling was part of South Africa’s ongoing case at the ICJ.

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