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Virginia Adopts IHRA Definition of Antisemitism into Law

Virginia lawmakers are taking steps to further protect the Jewish community from antisemitic attacks and persecution with a new bill that recently passed in the Virginia House.

In the most recent legislative session, House Bill 1606 was passed with bipartisan support. This law adopts the Working Definition of Antisemitism into Virginia Law.

This definition was first adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in 2016. The IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism reads: “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.”

“I am proud and honored by the overwhelming bipartisan support from the Virginia General Assembly, which represents a strong step forward in eliminating antisemitic hate and discrimination in Virginia and nationwide,” Delegate Anne Ferrell Tata, the chief patron of HB 1606, said.

The adoption of the definition was first recommended by the Commission to Combat Antisemitism, which released a report to Governor Glenn Youngkin in December 2022 summarizing the state of antisemitism in Virginia. The first recommendation in that report was to formally adopt the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism into Virginia Law.

“Hate has no place in the Commonwealth and I’m proud to take continued steps to fight antisemitism,” Youngkin said in a statement. “I am truly inspired by the devotion shown to transform what started as an idea into a law that will change how we combat antisemitism in the Commonwealth.”

The passage of this bill comes after a reported rise in antisemitic attacks in Virginia and across the country. In 2022, Virginia saw nearly 350 reports of antisemitic acts, according to the Office of the Governor.

Earlier this month, Attorney General Jason Miyares established an Antisemitism Task Force to “monitor, combat, and educate Virginians about hate against Jewish people.” According to Miyares, this Task Force was the first of its kind in the country.

Source: https://www.wavy.com/news/politics/virginia-politics/virginia-house-passes-bill-to-formally-define-antisemitism-under-state-law/