Nevada becomes first state higher education system to adopt IHRA definition

This is the first time a state higher education system itself actively adopted the measure rather than doing so through legislative decree or gubernatorial order.

Nevada Board of Regents voted on Friday to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Definition of antisemitism in universities and colleges across the state. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Nevada Board of Regents voted on Friday to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Definition of antisemitism in universities and colleges across the state.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Amid a national spike in antisemitism, the Nevada Board of Regents voted on Friday to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Definition of Antisemitism for use in anti-bias and anti-discrimination education and training for all colleges and universities of the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE). 

This is the first time a state higher education system itself actively adopted the measure rather than doing so through legislative decree or gubernatorial order.

Nevada was one of ten US states that announced in January that they will adopt the  IHRA working definition of antisemitism. The announcement came as the world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The IHRA definition of antisemitism is distinct from other descriptions of anti-Jewish discrimination because it says that while not all criticism of Israel is antisemitic, criticism can cross the line into antisemitism when delegitimizing, demonizing, or applying double standards to Israel. The definition also addresses the antisemitic nature of attacks against Jewish individuals or institutions that attribute to all Jews' collective guilt for real or perceived actions by Israel.

So far 28 state governments have adopted or endorsed the IHRA definition, the most widely accepted legal standard for antisemitism internationally. Over 865 national, state and local governments and major public entities have endorsed the IHRA definition in recent years, including the US Departments of State, Education, and Justice. It has also been endorsed by 51 of the 53 member organizations of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.

International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (credit: Courtesy)International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (credit: Courtesy)

“Antisemitism is at crisis levels nationally, and the Board of Regents wanted to be proactive here and get in front of the problem. By adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism we are making a statement that the Nevada System of Higher Education is committed to equal protections for all our students,” said Nevada Regent Byron Brooks. 

Israeli-American Council (IAC)

The Los Angeles-based Israeli-American Council (IAC), which includes a Nevada chapter, welcomed the NSHE’s adoption of the IHRA definition and commended the Board of Regents for working on the policy improvements with IAC’s legislative and policy-making arm, the Israeli-American Coalition for Action (IAC For Action). 

“Antisemitism is at crisis levels nationally, and the Board of Regents wanted to be proactive here and get in front of the problem."

Nevada Regent Byron Brooks

“The adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism by the Nevada System of Higher Education advances equal protection for Jewish students and sets a standard that we hope other states will soon follow,” said IAC National Board Chair Naty Saidoff. “It is a necessary step in fulfilling Nevada’s commitment to creating an environment of safety and inclusion for Jewish students on college campuses across the state.”

Brooks spearheaded the Nevada effort over the past 18 months. The NSHE’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA) Committee voted unanimously in September to approve the adoption of IHRA as part of a broader update to anti-bias education and training requirements. The policy recommendation was enacted today at the quarterly meeting of the Board of Regents.

“This policy update is in line with national Title VI policy and with our governor’s proclamation this past January that endorsed the IHRA definition and called for policy solutions. I would like to thank the IAC for Action for their expert guidance on this matter and for working closely with our team,” Brooks added.

IAC for Action also helped lead Florida, Iowa, South Carolina, Tennessee, New Mexico and Arizona to enact state IHRA definition legislation. The Florida and Tennessee legislation adopted the IHRA definition specifically for education settings. The definition has also been endorsed through proclamations and resolutions in 22 additional states: Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.