Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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Antisemitism Watchdog Asks Newsom to Take Action

Antisemitism in California is on the rise — and Gov. Gavin Newsom is being urged to do something about it.

In a letter to Newsom, Liora Rez, executive director of the nonprofit organization StopAntisemitism, has asked the governor to pursue legislation that would adopt a clearer definition of antisemitism and strengthen penalties for those who commit religious-based hate crimes.

“Now is the time for decisive action,” Rez wrote in the letter. “By taking these steps you will send a powerful message that California stands united against antisemitism and is committed to upholding the values of tolerance, understanding, and respect that define our great state.”

Hate crimes targeting Jewish people in California jumped 24% from 2021 to 2022, according to a new hate crimes report released last month by Attorney General Rob Bonta. Nearly two-thirds of California’s religious-based hate crimes last year targeted Jewish people, the report found.

Just in recent weeks, the Sacramento area has seen several public displays of antisemitism — from hate speech at Sacramento City Council meetings to antisemitic flyers blanketing lawns and front porches throughout Sacramento and neighboring communities.

StopAntisemitism is specifically seeking a state law to mirror Florida’s House Bill 269, which would make it a felony to deface or damage religious cemeteries, distribute threatening materials on private property or harass someone for wearing religious clothing. The group is also asking California to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, or IHRA, definition of antisemitism — a move that the Los Angeles City Council took late last year.

IHRA defines antisemitism as 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.”