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Lawmakers reach compromise on antisemitism measure, send to governor’s desk

Outside photo of the Indiana Statehouse
Lauren Chapman
/
IPB News
A bill to define and ban antisemitism in state public education institutions is headed to the governor’s desk.

A bill to define and ban antisemitism in state public education institutions is headed to the governor’s desk.

The new version of HB 1002 serves a sort of “middle ground,” placing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance reference back into the definition, but leaving out IHRA’s examples.

Caryl Auslander is with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Indianapolis. She said the group is happy with the bill, and the reference to the IHRA’s definition is also indirectly incorporating its examples of antisemitism.

“We feel very strongly that since the 11 examples are included within IHRA, that those are being incorporated by reference,” she said.

Auslander said her group feels this does not infringe on free speech.

“Our feeling is that there is a fine line between hate speech and free speech,” Auslander said. “But there are limitations on free speech. As we know, it's not universal. And so we feel very strongly that this will make a very strong statement against hate.”

Indiana Muslim Advocacy Network released a statement following the legislation’s passage, celebrating its compromise.

“The reservations surrounding these examples stemmed from majority of the examples defining certain criticisms of Israel as antisemitic, which could have been used to stifle free speech in schools and on college campuses,” the statement said.

The controversial bill was amended several times during hearings. The initial bill used both the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism and its examples.

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In prior testimony, the bill received support from Hoosiers who said the IHRA definition clearly defines antisemitism and gives state educational institutions the opportunity to notice and combat this in schools.

Opponents of the original measure said it would too closely conflate criticism of Israel with antisemitism and limit free speech. Others against the bill also said this would increase anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab rhetoric.

Another iteration of the bill used the definition, but took out references to the IHRA directly and its examples of antisemitism.

Supporters of this version of the bill said it provided protection against antisemitism while still allowing for “valid” criticism of Israel. But opponents of that version of the bill said IHRA’s definition and examples are vital to defining and combating antisemitism. They said taking out references to these could make antisemitism more prevalent.

The measure passed both chambers Friday with only one vote in opposition and now moves to the governor’s desk.

CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this story included editing errors for the abbreviation of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

Violet is our daily news reporter. Contact her at vcomberwilen@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @ComberWilen.