July 18, 2024
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Testifying in Support of Legislation Defining Antisemitism

Editor’s note: Below is testimony given before the Assembly committee debating S1292, which defines antisemitism according to the IHRA.

My name is Dr. Rosy Bagolie, and I proudly represent the 27th assembly legislative district of New Jersey. I stand before you today carrying the voices of my constituents, our Jewish brothers and sisters across the state, and our allies.

Antisemitism and Islamophobia are real; it is on the rise, and it is hurting us all. This body must use the full force of its voice to stamp it out by passing Bill S1292, adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism and its companion Bill, S2937, which mandates the definition’s inclusion in the State’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) policies. A yes vote proclaims to New Jersey and the nation that you hear us, stand with us, and will protect us all.

The Jewish community needs your support. We are scared and feel abandoned—waiting on Trenton to loudly condemn antisemitism—not just with your words, but with your deeds, for inaction emboldens attackers, for silence suggests that this behavior is not serious enough to warrant condemnation, leading to a climate of fear, violence and intolerance.

While New Jersey is home to the third-largest Jewish population in the nation, we also lead in antisemitic incidents per capita. Just this week, my own son, a high school junior, felt the perverse sting of antisemitism. He plays goalie for the Israeli Box Lacrosse Team, which was forced out of an upcoming tournament by a small but vocal minority of antisemites. These were just kids looking to play lacrosse—I am heartbroken for him, I am sickened, and I am outraged.

This outrage fuels my commitment to passing these bills. However, we must also have room in our hearts for light, for it is this light that shall guide us through the moments of darkness, particularly on our college campuses. What’s occurring there is an aggressive assault on Jewish students, an affront to American values, and a threat to our society.

Universities, once safe havens of tolerance and enlightenment, have allowed antisemitism to fester. What is being shouted is not merely hate speech; it is a clarion call for violence. We know all too well the dreadful cry for ‘intifada’: it signifies the blowing up of Jews on buses, the stabbing, the shooting, the running down of innocents, and the slaughter of our Jewish brothers and sisters as we tragically witnessed October 7th—now celebrated by protesters as we just saw outside of the Nova Exhibit in New York—Celebrated by the same so-called protesters who chant “from the river to the sea,” seeking the destruction of Israel and a second Holocaust and seemingly laughing in the face of our hurt.

This is not only a Jewish issue; it is an American issue. It is part of the broader struggle for human rights and Western principles—for when we stand against antisemitism, we stand against all forms of hatred, including Islamophobia. The bill before you adopting the IHRA definition provides clear standards and definitions, essential for addressing antisemitism. It empowers educators, administrators and law enforcement to recognize, respond to, and eradicate this specific form of hate. Its passage will send a powerful message that antisemitism has no place in our communities, our schools, or our hearts.

Contrary to what objectors believe, this bill does not suppress free speech. The IHRA definition has been endorsed by over eleven hundred entities, including the European Union, the United Nations, a majority of U.S. states, the Biden administration, and my hometown of Livingston—New Jersey would be far from alone in adopting it

Despite New Jersey’s large Jewish population, we still lag behind 36 other states that have already passed what we have not. The time to act is now—quiet support is not enough. As a Jewish wife and mother, I urge you to vote yes on this bill. As your colleague, I respectfully demand action.

Let us stand together, unafraid to voice the truth and unafraid to call for what is right as we say:

If Kentucky and Texas can pass a law codifying antisemitism, we can too; If South Carolina can pass a law codifying antisemitism, New Jersey can too.

IF 36 OTHER STATES CAN PASS A LAW CODIFYING ANTISEMITISM, THEN OUR GREAT STATE MUST TOO!


Assemblywoman Dr. Rosaura “Rosy” Bagolie’s (LD27-Essex/Passaic) family history of resilience, escaping persecution as Dutch Jews to find refuge in the Dominican Republic, inspires her. Rosy brings a unique perspective to the legislative table—a Jewish-Latina immigrant whose family emigrated from the Dominican Republic to America to pursue a better life, chasing the American Dream. Her husband, Ricky, is an attorney, and together, they are blessed with three remarkable sons, one of whom plays goalie for Team Israel Lacrosse. They live in Livingston.

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