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At Least 6 US States Mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day by Adopting IHRA Antisemitism Definition

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) logo.

January 31, 2022

As the world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day last week, at least six U.S. states – Alabama, Nevada, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia — adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism.

Following these adoptions, a total of 17 U.S. states have recognized the IHRA definition, which states, “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 definition’s accompanying list of examples details 11 specific discriminatory behaviors targeting Jews and the State of Israel.

Media reports that Arkansas, Idaho, West Virginia, and Wyoming also adopted the definition last Wednesday could not be independently confirmed by the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM).

Governors in five of the states in the latest round of adoptions issued executive proclamations acknowledging the IHRA definition, while in Virginia the adoption was carried out via an executive order.

“The use of this definition of antisemitism, although it is not to be taken as an exhaustive definition, will increase awareness and understanding of the parameters of contemporary anti-Jewish discrimination in certain circumscribed areas,” some of the proclamations read, according to The Jerusalem Post.

William Daroff, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, thanked “these Democratic and Republican governors for recognizing the importance of utilizing the IHRA working definition of antisemitism as an essential tool to determine contemporary manifestations of antisemitism, as well as to educate and raise awareness of antisemitism.”

Pastor John Hagee, founder and chairman of Christians United For Israel, commented, “This wave of executive statements and actions shows that our leaders are taking seriously the need to acknowledge the IHRA definition. One cannot defeat that which they are unwilling to define, and from Washington to the state capitals, the IHRA definition is being acknowledged and appropriately utilized.”

Adam Teitelbaum, executive director of the Jewish Federations of North America’s Israel Action Network, noted, “The alarming rise of antisemitism requires multiple tools to ensure Jews feel safe and secure and having a unified definition helps make that possible. It is especially meaningful to see so many states take action on the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, a day when the world is memorializing the horrors of the Holocaust.”