This antisemitism redefinition bill requires the state, including state and local agencies, to consider a distorted definition of antisemitism to determine whether there has been a violation of state anti-discrimination laws. The bill defines antisemitism to include IHRA definition and its contemporary examples related to Israel, which include: “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” and “applying double standards” to Israel. The definition conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Jewish hatred, circumscribing political speech in support of Palestinian rights potentially in violation of the First Amendment.
South Carolina has passed similar provisions that apply to discrimination in the public education system as part of its annual budget bills since 2018 (H4950, H4000). HB 5287 would codify this problematic definition and expand its use beyond the education context to all state agencies.
The lead sponsor of HB 5287, Rep. Alan Clemmons, has advocated for legislation aimed at silencing advocates for Palestinian rights as a board member and former chairman of ALEC, the rightwing bill mill that has pushed numerous racist policies, including Stand Your Ground laws and anti-pipeline protest laws.