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Protesters call for changes to antisemitism bill

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Posted at 4:44 PM, Jan 18, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-18 16:55:00-05

INDIANAPOLIS — About 30 people rallied at the Indiana Statehouse Thursday to protest a bill that would define antisemitism in the state.

The protesters said they fear the proposal, HB 1002, cites examples of antisemitic speech that could make it illegal to criticize the Israeli government.

"This specific bill is supposed to be about antisemitism, but those examples conflate antisemitism with criticisms of the State of Israel and its policies," said Syed Ali Saeed, president of Indiana Muslim Advocacy Network.

Saeed said the proposal would make it legal to fire employees or expel college students for criticizing the Israeli government.

"Anybody who violates the stated law of the land is also going to be violating those employment agreements," Saeed said. "The repercussions and the impact of this bill goes far beyond just defining antisemitism."

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About 30 people gathered at the Indiana Statehouse Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024, to protest a bill that would define antisemitism. HB 1002 passed the Indiana House 83-0.

Supporters of the bill say antisemitism has been on the rise in recent years, especially after the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas and the subsequent Israeli counteroffensive.

The proposal, supporters say, bans acts that target people for being Jewish. It doesn't ban criticism of the Israeli state, they say.

"We're seeing students on campus, we're seeing individual Jews who are targeted because because they are Jewish," said Jacob Markey, executive director of the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council. "And we know that if we want to be able to combat antisemitism, we first have to be able to define antisemitism."

HB 1002 passed the Indiana House Thursday on a vote of 83-0. It now moves to the Indiana Senate.

WRTV reporter Meredith Hackler contributed to this story.

Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at victor.ryckaert@wrtv.com or on X/Twitter: @vicryc.