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POLITICIANS in more than half a dozen US states are pushing for laws to redefine anti-semitism as including criticism of Israel.
Supporters of the change, which Georgia has already voted in, are using the October 7 attack by Hamas to claim that some forms of criticism of Israel also amount to hatred of Jewish people.
But Kenneth Stern, the author of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition, said that using such language in law was problematic.
“There’s an increasingly large number of young Jews for whom their Judaism leads to an anti-zionist position,” said Mr Stern, who is director of the Bard Centre for the Study of Hate.
“I don’t want the state to decide that issue.”
A coalition of organisations, including Jewish Voice for Peace and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, issued a joint statement saying that the Georgia Bill “falsely equates critiques of Israel and zionism with discrimination against Jewish people.”
Foundation for Middle East Peace president Lara Freidman warned that the laws could elevate charges, such as those against a protester for property destruction, to the level of a hate crime if the perpetrator was seen with a Palestinian flag.
Georgia House of Representatives member Ruwa Romman, a Democrat of Palestinian descent, said that the definition, when adopted by colleges, had stifled students’ right to free speech.
“When they attempted to host a Palestinian poet or Palestinian culture night, the administration has pre-emptively cancelled the events for fears of being anti-semitic,” she said.
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