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.
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