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Seeking to ‘Turn Darkness Into Light,’ Massachusetts Governor Issues Proclamation Endorsing IHRA Antisemitism Definition

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. Photo: Pat Greenhouse / The Boston Globe.

February 20, 2022

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued a proclamation on Friday officially endorsing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism.

This made Massachusetts the 19th U.S. state to adopt or endorse the IHRA definition, according to Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) Information Hub data.

The definition says, “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.

Governor Baker’s proclamation noted, “The IHRA Working Definition provides a clear, comprehensive, and non-legally binding definition that can be used to determine contemporary manifestations of antisemitism including Holocaust distortion or denial, prejudices against Jews, and the denial of Israel’s right to exist.”

The proclamation — which was also signed by Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin — declared, “Antisemitism is a challenge to the basic principles of tolerance, pluralism, and democracy, and the shared values that bind Americans and many allies together.”

“We clearly identify hate, transform it into positive change and turn darkness into light,” it added.

In December, Governor Baker signed legislation mandating lessons on the Holocaust and other genocides be taught in Massachusetts middle schools and high schools.

The Massachusetts House of Representatives previously adopted the IHRA definition in January 2020.

Last month, a half-dozen U.S. states commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day by recognizing the definition.