The National Lawyers Guild, its International Committee, Palestine Subcommittee and Central Arizona chapter joined a collective letter calling on members of the Arizona Senate to reject proposed legislation, SB 1143 and HB 2683. These bills attempt to impose the so-called “IHRA definition of anti-Semitism” to define hate crimes. The IHRA definition and, especially, its associated “examples” repeatedly conflate criticism of and opposition to the Israeli state and anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.
As noted in the letter, “The definition of anti-Semitism the Arizona legislature is considering adopting was never intended to be codified into law. Kenneth Stern, the lead author of the original IHRA definition has explicitly opposed application of the definition into United States law. Stern noted the definition was “never intended as a vehicle to monitor or suppress speech on campus” and that it was not only unnecessary but would also “hurt Jewish students and the academy” by preventing conversations ofthe issues and isolating Jewish students. In his testimony before Congress, Stern also discussed the ways in which the definition has been used to curtail protected speech.”
The letter also notes that ” these bills would also allow for the criminalization of protected speech. The proposed legislation will make statements that are protected by the First Amendment potentially punishable in criminal court… If passed, Arizona law would require that criticism of Israel be considered an aggravating factor for sentencing in criminal convictions. Persons who protest the Israeli government could find themselves facing a bias crime prosecution because of their political speech.”
Arizona residents can take action to oppose SB 1143 and HB 2683 by sending a letter and contacting their Senators through the ACLU website: https://action.aclu.org/send-message/az-sb1143