Arizona adopts IHRA definition of antisemitism

The state of Arizona voted to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism on Tuesday

 Hopi point in Arizona (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Hopi point in Arizona
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The state of Arizona voted to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s Working Definition of Antisemitism on Tuesday.

The Arizona Holocaust education bill was supposed to be passed a year ago, after years in the works, but it was stalled by Arizona State Sen. Paul Boyer since it did not include the IHRA definition for antisemitism. 

“Passing the bill without the IHRA definition would leave our legislative intent unfulfilled and vulnerable to exploitation,” he said a year ago, according to the local Arizona Jewish News. 

“Including the IHRA language threatens the bill’s bipartisan support and further delays something that has been ‘agonizingly close for three years,’” the Jewish News quoted Arizona House Rep. Alma Hernandez, who first introduced the bill in January 2020, in April 2021. 

Arizona’s move to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism followed that of Ohio State University by a few days. In Executive Order 2022-06D, called “Defining and Combating Antisemitism,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine encouraged “all federal and local governments and governmental agencies and entities to adopt it as well. Jews continue to be a targeted minority in the United States and are, according to FBI statistics and other reporting, consistently the most likely of all religious groups to be victimized by incidents of hate, and such incidents are increasing at an alarming rate.”

The aftermath of an allegedly antisemitic attack at the Chaverim Congregation in Tucson, Arizona on May 18, 2021.  (credit: CHAVERIM CONGREGATION/JTA)The aftermath of an allegedly antisemitic attack at the Chaverim Congregation in Tucson, Arizona on May 18, 2021. (credit: CHAVERIM CONGREGATION/JTA)

Eight Jewish Federations in Ohio congratulated DeWine, saying that he has “repeatedly given his personal commitment to our community on combating hate, especially Jew-hatred. His issuance of today’s Executive Order [for] defining antisemitism is the latest step. Together with his powerful letter to college and university presidents in December on making the campus safe for Jewish students, faculty, and staff, Ohio leads the way in facing this ancient hatred head-on. We are grateful for his leadership.”

The Jewish Federations said that “statistics bear out that antisemitism is on the rise in Ohio, nationally, and throughout the world, including recent incidents at the Ohio State University, and a frightening arrest of a security guard who was betraying the very Jewish institutions in Central Ohio he was supposedly protecting.”

FBI hate crimes statistics also demonstrate this trend, with nearly 55% of religiously motivated hate crimes in the US targeting Jews, despite Jews accounting for only 2% of the population.

“Both Hillel and ADL statistics also show a rise in anti-Jewish hate on campus, with Hillel showing an astonishing 178 incidents in 2019-20, in a year when many campuses were shut down for months due to the pandemic,” the Federations said.

The Arizona amendment stated that “antisemitism includes the definition of antisemitism that was adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance on May 26, 2016, and that has been adopted by the US Department of State, including the contemporary examples of antisemitism identified in the adopted definition.”

In addition, the term “antisemitism” was amended to a few of the local laws such as “collecting information concerning criminal offenses that manifest evidence of prejudice based on antisemitism.”