STATEHOUSE — A bill before state lawmakers would change the definition of antisemitism according to the state in an effort to make sure antisemitism is not present within Indiana’s education system.
The bill passed the Indiana House last year but did not make it out of the State Senate, so State Rep. Chris Jeter re-introduced the bill for this session and it has already made it through two readings in front of the full House chamber.
Specifically, the bill states that Indiana’s definition of antisemitism would match that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which 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.”
Opponents of the bill, mostly Democrats, say the bill is too vague.
“(Educators) feel concerns that if they were to say anything about Israel, that would be deemed as antisemitic,” said State Rep. Cherrish Pryor. “People should be able to criticize any country if they feel that country is not doing right, particularly if there are human rights violations.
Pryor proposed an amendment to remove language from the bill that “does not include criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country.”
Jeter retorted that the bill does make it clear that criticism of the Israeli government is not considered antisemitism under the bill’s language.
“No definition is perfect, obviously,” he said. “We included sort of what is considered the most widely considered universal definition of antisemitism. My concern (with Pryor’s amendment) is we might go a little bit far, even in an academic setting. We want teachers to be able to criticize Israel like they would any other country.”
Jeter added that the goal of the bill is to ensure that educators are not advocating for the elimination of a group of people. In this case, the Jews.
The bill advanced on a second reading and will need one more full House vote before it can be advanced to the State Senate.
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