Opinion: As representatives of Atlanta’s Jewish community, we support passage of HB 1274

Georgia’s State Capitol.

Georgia’s State Capitol.

Georgia House Bill 1274, which would add a reference of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, is up for approval by the Georgia state legislature.  The bill is an important addition to Title 50 of the state code, which is for general definitions. The overwhelming majority of the Jewish community of Georgia supports this definition and HB 1274.

Public opposition to this bill, we believe, misrepresents its scope and the definition of antisemitism.

Those disapproving of the bill claim that this definition prevents any criticism of the policies or practices of the government of Israel. No such thing is included. Criticism of the government of Israel is not prohibited.

The antisemitism definition does include several examples that have the word “Israel” in them:

1) Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.

2) Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel than to the interests of their own nations.

3) 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.

4) Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.

5) Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

6) Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

None of those stated examples prevents anyone from criticizing the policies or practices of the government of or state of Israel.  Anyone is free to make legitimate criticisms.  Anyone reading these examples realizes that these actions or statements blame the whole of the Jewish people or that blame the existence of the state of Israel for various perceived concerns, slights or wounds.

As antisemitism continues to rise, across the United States and in the state of Georgia, we urge the Georgia Legislature to reject such misrepresentations of the purposes and language of the House Bill and urge that the bill be passed.

Signed by:

Harold Kirtz, President, and Leslie Anderson, Executive Director, Jewish Community Relations Council of Atlanta

Craig Kaufman, Chair, and Dov Wilker, Executive Director, American Jewish Committee

Matt Bronfman, Chair, and Eric Robbins, President and CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta

Rabbi Alexandria Shuval-Weiner, President, Atlanta Rabbinical Association, and Rabbi, Temple Beth Tikvah, Roswell

Sherry Z. Frank and Stacey Hader Epstein, Co-Presidents, National Council of Jewish Women (Atlanta Chapter)

Helen Scherrer-Diamond, President, B’nai B’rith International (Achim/Gate City Atlanta Lodge)

Cheryl Dorchinsky, Executive Director, Atlanta Israel Coalition

Marci Abrams-Feinstein, President, Hadassah Greater Atlanta Chapter

Jeff Willard, Co-Chair, Tzedek Georgia

Rabbi Peter S. Berg, Senior Rabbi, The Temple, Atlanta

Rabbi Steven Rau, Director of Lifelong Learning, The Temple, Atlanta

Rabbi Daniel Dorsch, Congregation Etz Chaim, Marietta

Jamie Platt Lyons, President, Congregation Etz Chaim, Marietta

Rabbi Ari Kaiman, Congregation Shearith Israel, Atlanta

Rabbi Joshua Heller, Congregation B’nai Torah, Sandy Springs

Roger Panitch, President, Congregation B’nai Torah, Sandy Springs

Rabbi Mark Kunis, Congregation Shaarei Shamayim, Atlanta

Rabbi Max Miller, Temple Emanu-El, Sandy Springs

Rabbi Dr. Jonathan K. Crane, Emory University

Rabbi Ron Segal, Temple Sinai, Sandy Springs

Rabbi Brad Levenberg, Temple Sinai, Sandy Springs

Adam D. Mayer, President, Temple Sinai, Sandy Springs

Shaked Angel, Regional Director, Israeli-American Coalition for Action (Atlanta)

Yoav Zilber, Chair, Israel-American Coalition for Action (Atlanta)

Rabbi Ellen Nemhauser, Chair, Interfaith Atlanta

Rabbi Scott Colbert, Temple Emanu-El, Sandy Springs

Rabbi Mark Zimmerman, Congregation Beth Shalom, Dunwoody

Rabbi Josh Hearshen, Congregation Or Ve Shalom, Atlanta

Rabbi Jason Holtz, Temple Kehillat Chaim, Roswell