South Dakota Governor Signs Bill Into Law That Conflates Criticism of Israel With Anti-Semitism

Under the law, drawing 'comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis' is considered anti-Semitic

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed a bill into law last week that conflates some criticisms of the modern state of Israel with anti-Semitism.

By signing the bill into law, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism must be taken into consideration in investigations of unfair or discriminatory practices within the state of South Dakota.

The IHRA’s definition was first adopted in 2016 and lists “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” as an example of anti-Semitism. Noem signed the bill into law as Israel’s brutal campaign in Gaza has killed over 31,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and after the International Court of Justice ruled it’s “plausible” that Israel is committing genocide.

The IHRA also defines anti-Semitism as applying “double standards” to Israel by “requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.” It lists “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination” by “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” as another example of anti-Semitism.

According to The Jerusalem Post, South Dakota has become the 12th US state to codify the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism into law. At least 23 other states have supported the definition through legislative action but have not officially made it into law. The US State Department has also adopted the definition, as the US is a member country of the IHRA.

Many US states have also passed laws to punish individuals or companies who boycott Israel. The legislation is designed to fight against the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement that advocates for global boycotts against Israel.

Over 30 states have adopted anti-BDS laws, and several states used them to punish Unilever, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, over the ice cream maker’s decision to stop selling its product in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Colorado, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Arizona, Florida, and Texas all took action against Unilever by moving to divest state pension funds from the British conglomerate. 

When Ben & Jerry’s first announced it would stop selling ice cream in the occupied territory, Israel launched a “maximum pressure” campaign and urged states to take action against Ben & Jerry’s. Unilever eventually sold the ice cream company’s business interests in Israel to a local company that would keep selling the product in settlements.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.