GA Legislature Passes Bill Adopting IHRA

“Today, the Senate confirmed our commitment to protecting our Jewish Community.” - John Kennedy, Georgia Senate President Pro Tempore
January 25, 2024
The Capitol building in Georgia (Susanne Neumann/Getty Images)

The Georgia legislature passed a bill on Thursday that adopts the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

The bill, HB 30, says that the state government will have to “consider” the IHRA definition “in the enforcement of laws and regulations prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin.”  Rahul Bali, reporter for WABE News, posted on X that the bill  “defines antisemitism for purposes of hate crime prosecution & cases of discrimination.”

The leading sponsors of the bill are State Reps. John Carson (R) and Esther Panitch (D) as well as State Sen. Pro Tempore John Kennedy (R), according to a press release from StandWithUs. The bill passed the state House in a 129-5 vote and the state Senate with a 44-6 vote; it is now headed to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s desk.

“Today, the Senate confirmed our commitment to protecting our Jewish Community,” Kennedy posted on X. “Antisemitism has no place in Georgia. Hate has no place in Georgia. I am humbled to have carried HB 30 as it passed out of the Senate today and look forward to it being signed into law.”

Lt. Gov. Burt Jones (R) applauded the bill’s passage, writing on X: “Antisemitic speech and hate will not be tolerated in Georgia. Today, and every day, we stand with Georgia’s and our nation’s Jewish Community.”

Jewish groups also lauded the bill’s passage.

“With antisemitism having exploded worldwide post-October 7, the IHRA definition remains a tool of paramount importance for helping identify and quell the mounting tide of antisemitism,” StandWithUs Director of Policy Education Jordan Cope said in a statement. “Georgia’s moral clarity on this matter sets a clear example from which other states ought to draw inspiration as Jews around the world desperately seek assurances of their own safety.”

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Atlanta posted on Facebook, “It has been a long three years and we are deeply grateful to the sponsors of the bill and its champions in both chambers. And while some tried to make this about Israel, it’s about the Jews in Georgia and giving them recourse when they are the victims of hate crimes. Thank you to all the Jewish organizations and their members who helped move this bill forward. We encourage Gov. Kemp to sign the bill into law.”

Rabbi Ari Weisenfeld, associate national director of state relations for Agudath Israel of America, similarly said in a statement, “Agudath Israel is especially grateful to Representatives Panitch and Carson for championing the bill last year and for continuing to advocate for it this year. We also thank Senate President Pro Tempore John Kennedy for sponsoring the bill in the Senate. We encourage other states to follow Georgia’s example.”

Kemp said in a statement that he’ll “soon be able to sign this important piece of legislation,” the Georgia Recorder reported. When Kemp signs HB 30 into law, 35 states will have adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

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