Missouri has become the 33rd U.S. state to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, a move that was warmly welcomed by the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM).
In an official proclamation, the full text of which can be read here, Missouri Governor Mike Parson also declared September to be Jewish-American Heritage Month (JAHM) in his state, coinciding with the Jewish High Holiday season.
“Missouri’s own Harry S. Truman was the first world leader to officially recognize Israel as a legitimate Jewish state, and we continue our proud support for members of the Jewish faith today,” Governor Parson stated. “While we always want to recognize, honor, and appreciate the contributions members of the Jewish faith make to our culture and communities across the state, we especially want to do so during Jewish American Heritage Month. We also want to take this opportunity to unequivocally reject antisemitism towards Jewish people and bigotry of any kind. Today and every day, we say hate and discrimination have no home in Missouri.”
Promoting the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism and Jewish American Heritage Month are two of CAM’s top action priorities.
“We are delighted that Missouri joins the growing family of states who understand the need to adopt tools to fight Jew-hatred,” CAM CEO Sacha Roytman Dratwa stated. “Our aim is to have every U.S. state adopt the IHRA definition, and we are well over halfway to reaching this important target.”
“As antisemitism is increasing everywhere, including across America, it is vital that Jews receive the protection necessary and antisemites not hide behind their own tainted definitions to try and protect themselves from justice,” he added.
A CAM Antisemitism Research Center (ARC) database of information on state adoptions of the definition can be accessed here.
Numerous elected officials from across Missouri, as well as representatives of the Missouri chapter of the Coalition for Jewish Values, attended Wednesday’s announcement ceremony in the state capital of Jefferson City.
“During Jewish American Heritage Month, we celebrate our state’s strong support for Israel and those of the Jewish faith,” Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe said. “We also reaffirm Missouri’s commitment to rejecting antisemitism and discrimination toward the Jewish community.”
Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft commented, “As secretary of state, I am pleased and honored to recognize the faith and fortitude of Jewish Americans and the contributions they have made to the great state of Missouri and this republic. Generations of Jewish people have come to this country; some fleeing oppression and discrimination, others searching for the American dream. I stand together with Jewish Missourians to celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month as we push forward to preserve freedom and form a more perfect union.”
In the first half of 2023, a total of 78 entities across the globe adopted or endorsed the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism, according data compiled by the CAM Antisemitism Research Center.
This brought the overall number of IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism adoptions and endorsements worldwide to 1,192, representing a broad array of international institutions and organizations, national and local governments, NGOs, universities, athletic clubs, and corporations that have embraced the definition as a framework for recognizing modern-day iterations of Jew-hatred, training and educational programs, and policymaking initiatives.
The IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism reads, “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.”
The non-legally binding definition includes 11 explanatory examples detailing specific discriminatory behaviors targeting Jews.
In May this year, 38 state governors and 135 mayors of cities across the U.S. officially recognized Jewish American Heritage Month — an indication of the growing awareness of the critical importance and timely relevance of this annual opportunity to highlight and celebrate Jewish contributions to U.S. society and educate the general public about Jewish culture, traditions, and history.
In 2006, the U.S. Congress passed a bipartisan resolution urging “the President to issue each year a proclamation calling on state and local governments and the people of the United States to observe an American Jewish History Month.”
Shortly thereafter, then-President George W. Bush declared May as Jewish American Heritage Month.
Since then, successive presidents from both parties have all released annual proclamations emphasizing the integral and unique role Jewish Americans have played in the great American story over the past three and a half centuries.
In recent years, local governments — at the state, county, and municipal levels — have begun to follow suit, recognizing JAHM and implementing relevant programs, ceremonies, and activities, and the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) made a concerted nationwide effort to get more to do so this year.