Jake Ephros, JC Candidate for Council, testifies against S1292 

Jake Ephros testifies against S1292 

For immediate release: June 17, 2024

Jake Ephros, candidate for Jersey City Council for Ward D, testified today, June 17th 2024, in front of the New Jersey Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee in opposition to S1292. Below is his full statement. 

“I’m speaking today in opposition against S1292, which would establish an unhelpful, counterproductive, and dangerous definition of antisemitism in New Jersey. 

New Jersey adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism misses the mark of a more serious problem we need to solve. Is it helpful for us to have clear avenues for combating antisemitic threats, like bomb threats called into synagogues? Of course. But the IHRA definition clouds more than it clears up, leaving room to conflate anti-Zionism with antisemitism. 

Last year, over one hundred civil society groups urged the United Nations not to adopt the IHRA definition on antisemitism, precisely because it gets used against pro-Palestinian activists. Groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International joined Israeli groups like B’Tselem and Adalah to come out against the IHRA definition. It’s been used by Zionist groups to condemn and silence movements like Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) and organizations like Students for Justice for Palestine. BDS advocates economic protest against the state of Israel, not economic protest against Jews. Though the IHRA definition says we shouldn’t equate Jews and Israel, those who wish to weaponize the IHRA definition of antisemitism will commit the very misdeeds they’re claiming to oppose. 

Students—including Jewish students—across US colleges have joined the international movement in solidarity with Palestinian freedom, and they’ve faced inhumane crackdowns from police, all in the name of making campuses safe for Jewish life. As a Jew, I feel a lot safer around pro-Palestine activists demanding a ceasefire and demanding freedom than I do around police in riot gear. 

I am one of many Jews vocally supporting a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, supporting an end to the Occupation and Israeli apartheid, and supporting the recent Uncommitted vote—a vote cast by over forty thousand New Jerseyeans in the Democratic Party primary election, expressing solidarity with Palestine and condemning the ongoing, genocidal attacks on Gaza. With a majority of voters in the US supporting a ceasefire in Gaza, and with waves of protest votes like ours in New Jersey, the Biden Administration is being pushed away from its full-throated support for the Israeli military and its crimes in Gaza. Our government finally supporting a UN resolution for a ceasefire is great, but we need to back it up with ending arms sales and military aid to Israel, the kind that’s paid for by working people from Jersey City to Paterson to Dearborn, Michigan and beyond. This is the more serious problem we need to solve. 

Of course, antisemitic vitriol and violent attacks are unacceptable. As a Jewish person with Jewish Israeli family, I know antisemitism and I will call it out. I was recently passing out information about the Uncommitted campaign, and one person told me that such a vote wouldn’t do anything because the Jews control everything anyway and, seeing as I’m Jewish, I, especially, should know that. 

As a union organizer and a tenant organizer, I talk to working people about fighting back against exploitative bosses or landlords. It’s not uncommon for people to tell me that the problem is that their boss or landlord is a Jew. In these moments, I feel emboldened to redirect and illustrate that it’s not some Jewish conspiracy that’s keeping us down, but that there is a real system—capitalism—that banks on exploiting working people and dividing us up through racism, nationalism, and hatred of others. Our economic system leaves so many people so miserable, such that myths about global Jewish conspiracies get created just to disguise what’s really going on. These myths are meant to distract the vast majority of us from standing together and fighting back against big business interests bent on profit no matter what—profit, even if it’s from selling weapons of war that kill tens of thousands of innocent people in Gaza. 

Carrying the memory of the Holocaust is a responsibility I was taught from my earliest days in Hebrew School. Often, the lesson was to connect the history of past genocide to violence, suffering, and injustice today. This sense of responsibility moved me to organize a fundraiser for Hurricane Katrina victims when I was just ten years old. It moved me to join early Black Lives Matter demonstrations in 2015. It moved me to join pro-Palestine rallies years before the Hamas attacks last October 7th. And it moves to me to continue using the privileged position I have to speak out against genocide in Gaza. The memory of the Holocaust is not meant to be isolated in history, severed from the rest of the world. It’s meant to be honored and to remind us “never again! Not in our name!” 

Instead of our state adopting an unhelpful and dangerous definition of antisemitism, I wish New Jersey would pass a resolution demanding a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. I wish New Jersey would have a public audit so we can divest our public money from the Israeli firms that profit from and perpetuate killing. I wish New Jersey would stand loudly and proudly in support of a free Palestine. Because what could breed antisemitism more than a situation where the Israeli military punishes and kills generations of Palestinians in the name of remembering the Holocaust, and in the name of the Jewish people?” 

Jake for JC


Photos of Jake

Previously Published June 14: Round Two: NJ State Democrat Legislators Preparing Legislation to Justify War Against NJ’s Pro-Palestine Movement – Immediate Action Friday June 14 to Register Your Participation / Objections

Jersey City Activist Mo Hamz Breaks it Down

TODAY! Click link in bio to oppose bills that would silence 🔇 pro-Palestinian 🇵🇸 free speech and advocacy in NJ.

We defeated these bills before and we will do it again. 💪

🙅‍♂️ 1. Register your opposition: Submit an online form that tells NJ State Senate you oppose these bills (S1292 and S2937). We need 1,000 people to register their opposition!

🗣 2. (Optional) Testify at the virtual hearing on Monday, June 17 at 9am. Talking points and advocacy training will be provided. Testifying is crucial because many legislators are not informed on the issue and presume it is simply an antisemitism bill.


👉 To get started and for more info, complete the AMP NJ “Oppose IHRA Bills” Google form. This form will track registrations and AMP NJ will follow up with talking points and advocacy training info.

Previously Published March 19. 2024:

News Release: Jewish, Muslim Organizations Celebrate Failure of Legislation Threatening Free Expression to Move in Senate Committee


Jewish, Muslim Organizations Celebrate Failure of Legislation
Threatening Free Expression to Move in Senate Committee
Photos and videos from the hearing and rally and additional information at 

Trenton, NJ – Jewish, Muslim, and other social justice organizations are celebrating the failure of S1292 and S2937 to be voted  out of the NJ Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee yesterday. Both bills incorporate the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Association definition of antisemitism, which treats criticism of the state as Israel as antisemitic, potentially threatening the ability of human rights groups to advocate for Palestinians.  Members of 20 organizations filled the hearing room,  phone banked to drive calls to committee members from constituents, and rallied outside the State House. With the Senate entering its budget process the failure of the bills to move today will significantly delay their forward motion if not kill them altogether for this year. Advocates intend to use the additional time to educate lawmakers on the threats these bills pose to First Amendment protected activities and to mobilize constituents to contact their legislators.

At the rally, activists held large banners  that read “Save Gaza” “Ceasefire Now, and “Stop Genocide” in order to indicate that they refused to allow the proposed legislation to have a chilling effect on their advocacy for Palestinians. They were joined by a box truck with large screens on the sides with messages including “Israel has killed 14,861 children in Gaza” and “tell NJ Senators to vote no on S2937.” Speakers included organizer Ateka Gunja, Selaedin Maksut of the Council on American Islamic Relations NJ,  David Letwin of Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, Larry Hamm of People’s Organization for Progress; Imam Saffet Catovic of Muslims for American Progress, Dr. Patricia Campos-Medina of The Worker Institute and Latina Civic, holocaust and genocide studies expert Professor Raz Segal of Stockton University, and John Hsu of  Our Revolution Middlesex.

According to Asma Elhuni of American Muslims for Palestine NJ Chapter “At a time when Congress is debating providing additional military funding to Israel as it commits genocide in Gaza, the need for human rights advocates to be free to criticize Israel without having their expression classified as hate speech could not be clearer.”

“The absurd consequence of adopting the deeply flawed International Holocaust Remembrance Association definition of antisemitism is that the speech of  Jewish  Holocaust survivors and refugees and their descendants and the descendants of Holocaust victims could be classified as antisemitic if they forcefully advocate for Palestinian human rights,” added Adam Weissman of Jewish Voice for Peace Northern NJ, the great-grandson of a Holocaust victim. Survivors of the Holocaust like Warsaw Ghetto uprising leader Marek Edelman (1919-2009), who proclaimed that “to be a Jew means always being with the oppressed, never with the oppressors,” have long been among the most vociferous critics of the state of Israel and its treatment of the Palestinian people.

Sponsoring organizations of the rally included American Muslims for Democracy, American Muslims for Palestine NJ Chapter, Black Lives Matter NJ, Council on American Islamic Relations NJ, Ceasefire Now NJ, Central Jersey Democratic Socialists of America, Cosecha, ICNA Council for Social Justice, IfNotNow NJ,  Jewish Voice for Peace Northern and Central NJ chapters, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, Muslim Community of New Jersey, Muslim Professional Group, NJ Muslim Voice for Progress, NJ 11th for Palestine, Palestinian American Community Center, Path to Victory, NJ Students for Justice in Palestine, and Voice of Humanity.