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March 24, 2022 7:07 pm
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Jewish Groups Praise Iowa Governor for Signing Bills to Combat Antisemitism, ‘Discriminatory Boycotts of Israel’

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signs legislation against antisemitism and Israel boycotts on March 23, 2022. Photo: Office of the Governor of Iowa.

Major Jewish American groups on Thursday praised Iowa’s governor for signing bills that aim to combat antisemitism and “discriminatory boycotts of Israel.”

The first measure endorsed by Gov. Kim Reynolds, HF2220, adopts the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, which will be used as an educational tool for state officials and taken into consideration when determining if an alleged discriminatory act is motivated by antisemitism.

“The bill demonstrates a firm commitment to the safety of the Jewish people, which is particularly essential at a time when acts of antisemitism are on the rise at home and abroad,” said the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an umbrella group representing 50 national Jewish groups.

The IHRA definition has now been adopted by 23 US states, according to the Conference.

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The second bill, HF2373, modifies an earlier law restricting investments of public funds in companies participating in the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign, which seeks to isolate Israel.

“The critical amendment further excludes any entity that is a ‘wholly-owned subsidiary, majority-owned subsidiary, parent company, or affiliate of such business,’” said the Conference, in a “direct rebuke” to companies like Unilever and its subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s, which in July announced that it would stop selling ice cream in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said the bills signal Iowa’s “enduring support for the State of Israel and our categorical rejection of antisemitism.”

“Iowa continues to stand shoulder to shoulder with the State of Israel, one of America’s most important and reliable allies, while fighting all forms of religious and ethnic discrimination,” Reynolds continued.

Israeli Consul General to the Midwest Yinam Cohen, who was at the signing, said Iowa and the Jewish state “can continue to work together to create lasting partnerships that are beneficial to both states and local economies.”

The American Jewish Committee (AJC), which helped draft the text underpinning the IHRA definition, separately thanked Reynolds for enacting the legislation.

“Governor Reynolds has been to Israel and has worked to create lasting partnerships with companies there,” it said in a statement. “This measure affirms the state will not tolerate ethnic and religious discrimination and will strengthen bonds between Iowa and Israel.”

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