Georgia State capitol building
Georgia State capitol buildingiStock

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp on Wednesday signed a law defining antisemitism in state law, The Associated Press reported.

Lawmakers in the state last Thursday passed the bill, which stalled in a Senate committee in 2023.

Kemp said that by enacting the law, he was “reaffirming our commitment to a Georgia where all people can live, learn and prosper safely, because there’s no place for hate in this great state.”

The bill adds the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition to the state’s hate crimes law, and opens the door to stiffer penalties for those who commit antisemitic incidents.

The IHRA working definition offers a comprehensive description of antisemitism in its various forms, including hatred and discrimination against Jews, Holocaust denial and, sometimes controversially, the way antisemitism relates to the ways criticism of Israel is expressed.

The definition, which is only referred to in the bill, describes 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.”

The measure was pushed with fresh urgency this year amid the Israel-Hamas war and a reported surge in antisemitic incidents in Georgia, according to AP.

In at least eight states nationwide, lawmakers are working on measures to define antisemitism, part of an upsurge of legislation motivated in part by the Israel-Hamas war. Arkansas passed such a law last year. New bills are pending this year in Indiana, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and South Dakota, noted AP.

More than half the states in the US have adopted or endorsed the IHRA definition, plus the District of Columbia, either as legislation or as an educational standard.