South Dakota lawmaker drafting bill to combat antisemitism

(The Center Square) – A South Dakota lawmaker is drafting a bill that would define antisemitism as discrimination.

Rep. Fred Deutsch, R-Florence, is the son of a Holocaust survivor. He told The Center Square in an email that reports of antisemitism in South Dakota dating as far back as 2021 and more recent reports of incidents at a state university led him to draft the legislation.

The Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, the military and governing organization that governs Palestine, has led to an increase in antisemitic incidents in the United States, according to the Anti-Defamation League. More than 2,000 incidents and 905 anti-Israel rallies have occurred, according to a map on the group’s website. South Dakota and North Dakota are the only states without a recorded incident on the map.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said in a statement Wednesday she is backing the bill.

“Jewish people around the world are facing discriminatory acts of hatred. Acts of violence against the Jewish people have even skyrocketed here in America. South Dakota will always stand with the Jewish people – and we will continue to support the State of Israel,” Noem said. “Antisemitism is discrimination against the Jewish people. I am proud to support this legislation.”

The governor said she is also asking the state’s Bureau of Human Resources and Administration to take antisemitic training this month.

South Dakota lawmakers begin the 2024 legislative session on Jan. 9.