January 18, 2024

Antisemitism bill unanimously passed by the Indiana House, now moves to the Senate

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The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. A similar bill also cleared the House last year but died in the Senate. - Lauren Chapman/IPB News

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. A similar bill also cleared the House last year but died in the Senate.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

The Indiana House Thursday unanimously passed a bill that would define and ban antisemitism in Indiana public education institutions.

Rep. Chris Jeter (R-Fishers) is the bill author. In his closing remarks, he emphasized recent increases in antisemitic remarks since the Hamas attack in southern Israel last October.

He said defining antisemitism with the definition in his bill is necessary in order to combat it.

“It defines antisemitism and prohibits it from being taught as a policy in K through 12 or higher ed curriculum in the state of Indiana,” Jeter said. “Now, you can't prohibit something if you don't define it. And while no definition is perfect, the definition in this bill authored by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance is as universal as definitions get.”

Jeter said he had spoken with students in both high schools and colleges throughout the state who have faced antisemitism. He said the legislation is aimed at supporting Jewish students that have faced this antisemitic rhetoric.

“Our own universities have not been immune, with students having reported through major news media outlets that they did not feel safe,” he said. “While anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli slogans and banners popped up on many of our campuses.”
 

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In prior testimony, opponents to the bill argued the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition closely conflates criticism of Israel with antisemitism. They said the definition may create a chilling effect for those wanting to speak out against Israel and limits free speech. Other concerns from bill opponents include fears of increased anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab rhetoric.

About three dozen protesters gathered at the Statehouse on Thursday as lawmakers prepared to vote on the measure.

Protesters were holding Palestinian flags, some were clad in black and white Keffiyehs and others held signs that said: “HB 1002 weaponizes antisemitism”

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. A similar bill also cleared the House last year but died in the Senate.


Dylan Peers McCoy contributed reporting.

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

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