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Governor Henry McMaster Signs Bill Defining Antisemitism Into Law

May 23, 2024

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Governor Henry McMaster today was joined by state and national Jewish community leaders and members of the General Assembly for a ceremonial bill signing of H. 4042, Defining Antisemitism. The bill adds the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's definition of antisemitism to state law to be considered when deciding whether there has been a violation of discrimination policy, law, or regulation. 

"Following the brutal terrorist attacks on Israel, we have seen an alarming rise in antisemitism not only around the world but shockingly on many of our nation’s college campuses and on the streets of many large cities," said Governor Henry McMaster. "South Carolina has long stood with Israel and with our Jewish community, which has a long proud history in our state. This bill signing sends a clear and unified message that South Carolina will continue to stand firm against antisemitism."

The bill 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.

"To even begin to solve the problem of antisemitism, there must be clarity about what it is and what it is not. That is why in 2016, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance built international consensus around a non-legally binding definition that offers clear guidelines and guardrails," said S.C. State Representative Beth Bernstein. "South Carolina needs this working definition of antisemitism, and I am delighted that we will now be one of those states."

Nothing in the law may be constructed to infringe upon rights protected under the First Amendment or Section 2, Article 1 of the South Carolina Constitution, 1895, or conflict with federal, state, or local discrimination laws. 

"The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition is not a tool of censorship. It is a tool of education and understanding that allows us to confront this great challenge of our time," said Elan Carr, Chief Executive Officer of the Israeli American Council. "Today, we stand united for the future of our children because together, we will build a better, more just future that our children and grandchildren deserve, and, as always, South Carolina is leading the way." 

The Holocaust Remembrance Alliance adopted this definition on May 26, 2016. Since then, it has been adopted by more than 1,200 entities worldwide, including 35 U.S. states, 91 U.S. cities and municipalities, and the U.S. State Department. 

Video of the bill signing ceremony can be found here.