Miami-area village passes landmark anti-Semitism ordinance


(JTA) — A Miami-area village council passed an ordinance that helps police define and investigate anti-Semitic acts as hate crimes.

The Bal Harbour Village Council unanimously passed the ordinance, which the Miami Herald reported is the first of its kind for a municipality.

The ordinance passed last week by the five-member council took effect immediately.

It points to the State Department’s 2010 definition of anti-Semitism but gives law enforcement discretion in determining whether to call a crime a hate incident.

Under the ordinance, police officers may consider whether a crime had an anti-Semitic motivation and investigate it as a violation of the ordinance in addition to state and federal hate crimes laws.

Mayor Gabriel Groisman, who worked to pass the measure, told the Miami Herald that since there is no codified definition of anti-Semitism, police departments throughout the United States have a hard time identifying and investigating hate crimes.

While there have not been any recent anti-Semitic acts in Bal Harbour, which has fewer than 3,000 residents, there have been several in neighboring municipalities. The village is home to a large number of Jewish families.

In December 2015, the village became the first major municipality to pass an ordinance against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. More than 20 U.S. states have passed such legislation.

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