Three states push to curb pro-Palestine activism

People gather to protest for the Palestinian people in the ongoing Middle East conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis during a rally on May 17th, 2021, in Tucson, Arizona.  (credit: Ross D. Franklin / AP)
Arizona, Tennessee, and Iowa are moving to codify a definition of antisemitism that includes criticism of Israel.

By Isaac Scher | Jewish Currents | Apr 26, 2022

“They moved it this year by stealth,”
—Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace 

Yesterday, Arizona’s Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation codifying the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism. It is the second time in as many years that Arizona’s Republican legislature has sought to incorporate the IHRA definition, described by critics as suppressing pro-Palestine advocacy, into its criminal law. The first time, in 2020, the ACLU opposed the bill for rendering some statements critical of Israel “as evidence of . . . hate crimes, including many statements clearly protected by the First Amendment.” Faced with significant opposition, the bill foundered.

Over the past several months, however, seemingly nobody knew that Arizona was trying again. In February, the House of Representatives introduced a bill concerning the “right to jury” and the “parent-child relationship.” A month later, the Senate bowdlerized and rewrote the bill to place the IHRA definition into criminal statutes. It returned to the House, where it passed with 82% support, and then moved to the governor’s office. “They moved it this year by stealth,” said Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) and a Jewish Currents contributing writer.

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