LEXINGTON, Ky. — It’s a growing movement across the nation and now Kentucky is the first state to adopt a resolution condemning Antisemitism.
The state now recognizes the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s proper definition of antisemitism.
Rabbi Shlomo Litvin said for a long time there’s been a floating concept of questioning what is antisemitism.
“We've seen multiple members of Congress say something that many people find blatantly hateful towards Judaism and like ‘I didn't know that was offensive’. After a while, ‘I didn't know that it was offensive’ that defense doesn't hold true,” Litvin said.
In 2016, the IHRA adopted a working definition of antisemitism. It reads: “Antisemitism is 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.”
“That definition has been adopted by dozens of countries, it's been adopted by all the major Jewish organizations in the United States to represent a wide consensus of Jews, it's been adopted by the last four administrations including the Biden administration, as well as the U.S. Department of Education in the U.S. State Department. However, Kentucky is the first state to make that adoption, and I think there'll be many more to follow,” Litvin said.
The rabbi said this resolution has been in the works for more than a year but the coronavirus put a delay in passing the resolution.
“So as soon as this session started it was going to be wanting to work on, especially in light of what happened December and January, but not as a reaction to, more to prevent the next idea,” Litvin said.
In November, vandals destroyed the Chabad Jewish Student Center’s sign and a month later in December, a man dragged a Jewish member of the community in a drive-by attack during a Menorah lighting ceremony during the festival of Hanukkah.
In January, Lexington police said a man placed stickers with a QR code at several area businesses. The QR code linked to a website containing Antisemitic messages. Lexington police are asking for the public’s help in identifying crime suspects.
“If we want to stop major acts of hate, we need to stop, seemingly minor accidents of hate. I’m a strong believer in the fact that there are no small acts of hate; all acts of hate are a major issue for our society,” Litvin said.
The rabbi said we need to know what hate looks like, in order to fight back against it.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signed the resolution in February. He also declared March Recognize Antisemitism Awareness and Mitigation month.