Texas' first antisemitism study shows anti-Jewish incidents doubled in 2021

The Texas Holocaust, Genocide, and Antisemitism Advisory Commission (THGAAC) released its first-ever study of antisemitism in the state, and the report shows the number of anti-Jewish incidents doubled last year.

The commission says over the last 18 months antisemitic incidents have grown more frequent and more extreme in Texas, citing examples such as the hostage situation at a Colleyville synagogue, the arson attack at Austin's Congregation Beth Israel, and antisemitic graffiti at Anderson High School.

THGAAC says their analysis also shows that discussions of antisemitism are driving social media conversations in Texas more than in previous years — and more than in 48 other states. The study found between 350,000 and 400,000 conversations from January to September of this year alone.

THGAAC is recommending eight action items ahead of the January legislative session to combat rising antisemitism.

  • Antisemitism training at universities, including education about the antisemitic roots of anti-Israel and BDS efforts on campus.
  • Expanded Holocaust education, including strengthening the statewide promotion of Holocaust Remembrance Week so it is more fully integrated into the curricula in public schools
  • IHRA Definition: THGAAC says incorporating the IHRA definition would provide clarity and make people more mindful.
  • Holocaust-related books: THGAAC wants to provide guidance to help ensure that important books about the Holocaust, genocide, and antisemitism are available to families and students.
  • Increased connections to law enforcement, highlighting the importance of reporting hate crime statistics to the FBI in an effort to fully track and understand the reach of antisemitism.

The list also includes three items that would require legislative action:

  • Create a grant program at the state level to help religious organizations, schools, and community centers harden their security infrastructures.
  • BDS on college campuses: 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.
  • Legislative awareness: Scheduling "listening tours" for lawmakers to speak with THGAAC, local educators, and museum officials to better understand their needs around Holocaust and antisemitism education.