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NJ If Not Now Leader Statement to NJ Senate Committee Pushing Repressive S1292 and S2937 Bills – The Bills Will Mandate Loyalty to Israel

I was unable to testify at the Senate Hearing today because they didn’t have a record of my registration. I would like to publish it here as an op-ed.

My name is Marcia Steinbock and I am a resident of legislative District 7. I am a member of If Not Now-New Jersey, and am here to oppose Bills S1292 and S2937.

I am Jewish and I support Palestinian liberation. As a Jew, I am concerned about antisemitism. I wouldn’t be here opposing the IHRA if I believed that it would keep Jews safe. Fortunately, here in New Jersey we have the New Jersey Civil Rights Act and a Hate Crimes law. These laws protect Jews. We do not need the IHRA. Its codification into law is opposed by Holocaust Studies academics, constitutional scholars, and most notably by Kenneth Stern, part author of the IHRA.

The IHRA equates criticism of Israel with antisemitism. As Justice Potter Stewart famously said about obscenity, “I’ll know it when I see it.” We know what antisemitism looks like. It’s White Nationalists marching in Charlottesville chanting “Jews will not replace us.” It’s Jews being gunned down in Jersey City, San Diego, Monsey, NY, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Washington,D.C., Overland Park, KN, Colleyville, TX – in synagogues, private homes, stores. Antisemitism is NOT people exercising their first amendment right to protest Israel’s genocidal acts against Palestinians. That is called Democracy.

The IHRA definition of antisemitism was adopted in Camden County. Here is an example of the damage it caused. Students at Eastern High School in Voorhees planned a school approved walkout during lunch hour to show support for Palestinian liberation. Politicians heard about it and forced the school to cancel a legitimate, constitutionally protected demonstration. Is this the message we want to impart to our students?

The IHRA promotes antisemitism against Jews who are critical of Zionism. It creates categories of “good Jews,” and “bad Jews.” Trump is using this antisemitic trope in his campaign, and it has been used for centuries to persecute Jews by dividing us up into “good” and “bad.” We see examples of it already in our streets and in Israel, where Jews are being attacked by Zionists for criticizing Israel. The bill will not keep Jews safe.

As a Jew, and as an American, I must oppose these bills. If passed, they would be contrary to our country’s highest ideals of fundamental fairness. Thank you.