Texas Antisemitism Study Highlights Rising Hate, Makes Eight Recommendations to Fight Back

The Texas Holocaust, Genocide, and Antisemitism Advisory Commission (THGAAC) has submitted the first-ever Study on Antisemitism in Texas to Gov. Greg Abbott, legislative leaders, and Texas lawmakers — and laid out eight recommendations for Texas to promote awareness, improve security, and fight back against rising hatred against Jews.

In 2021, the Texas Legislature established THGAAC as an advisory commission to the Texas Historical Commission and directed it to produce a biennial study on antisemitism. In the 18 months since then, antisemitic incidents have grown more frequent and more extreme in Texas, the study finds. They have included arson at a synagogue; hostage-taking during religious services; college students targeted for their support for Israel; families feeling a sense of “othering” in some schools; and neighborhoods blanketed with anti-Jewish messages.

“This week, Jewish families are gathering to celebrate Chanukah when they remember their centuries-old struggles against — and victories over — hate. This study is a powerful call to action for Texans to come together to fight modern-day antisemitism in all forms across our communities,” said THGAAC Chair Kenneth E. Goldberg of Dallas. “This hatred has no place in our state, and this report provides a roadmap for local officials, educational leaders, and state officeholders to support Jewish Texans.”

Three of the recommendations will require legislative action next year. They include:

· Creating a state-funded security grant program to help religious organizations, schools, and community centers harden their security infrastructures

· Prohibiting state-funded colleges from implementing academic boycotts, such as those promoted through the anti-Israel and antisemitic global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement

· Scheduling “listening tours” for lawmakers to speak with THGAAC, local educators, and museum officials to better understand their needs around Holocaust and antisemitism education.

“The normalization of antisemitism in our communities draws on centuries-old tropes about Jewish greed, control, and influence, which have taken root across ideologies and sectors of society. These trends have emerged at a moment when information — and misinformation — is easier than ever to share online,” said THGAAC Executive Director Joy Nathan. “Our commission stands ready to support and advise legislators and state leaders as they review this report and assess our recommendations.”

The other five recommendations can be implemented directly by the THGAAC through its ongoing advisory role to local governments, school districts, universities, and law enforcement. They focus on:

· Supporting training about antisemitism at universities

· Expanding Holocaust education in public schools

· Using the International Holocaust Remembrance Association (IHRA) definition of antisemitism as an educational and training tool

· Ensuring that Holocaust-related books are available in school libraries

· Increasing connections with law enforcement, including around hate crime reporting

“The events in Texas over the past 18 months show the increased need to raise awareness about the Holocaust, genocide, and antisemitism and the vital role our commission must play,” said Goldberg. “This Study on Antisemitism provides a guide for state leaders to build on their long-standing commitment to educating Texans and rooting out this hatred.”

The 2021 law that created THGAAC was one of multiple state efforts in recent years to recognize and combat rising antisemitism. In 2017, Gov. Abbott signed a law that empowered Texas to lead the national fight against the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Since 2019, his office has distributed $9 million in federal security grants to Jewish institutions.

To prepare the Study on Antisemitism, THGAAC reviewed data and reports from law enforcement agencies and groups dedicated to fighting hate in Texas and nationally. The commission interviewed more than 25 members of the Texas Jewish community as well as public safety officials, educators, leaders of national Jewish organizations, and academics who research the history and state of antisemitism.

The study also reviews the history and tropes of antisemitism, provides an overview of the Texas Jewish community, and includes detailed information about specific antisemitic incidents and educational and outreach efforts in Texas.

 

12/19/2022