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House passes resolution condemning antisemitism in Utah

Posted at 4:56 PM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-23 19:54:06-05

SALT LAKE CITY — The House of Representatives voted unanimously to support a resolution condemning antisemitism in Utah.

House Concurrent Resolution 15, sponsored by Rep. Doug Owens, D-Millcreek, notes instances of the Jewish community being targeted recently, and says the state of Utah condemns them.

"We express our support for our Jewish friends, we recognize the Jewish community’s tremendous contributions to our history and we pledge our intention to root out antisemitism and hate wherever we find it," Rep. Owens said on the House floor.

Jewish community leaders and state lawmakers encouraged support for the resolution at a news conference in front of the official portrait of Gov. Simon Bamberger, Utah's first Jewish governor.

"We are seeing the normalization of extremism and hate," said former state representative Patrice Arent.

Arent said she has seen antisemitism rising in Utah.

"There has been a bomb threat to my synagogue. There have been protests at the governor’s mansion with a swastika on a flag. My own experience? There were antisemitic comments made against me during my campaigns," she said.

Recently, Arent said someone shouted at her in a store parking lot "Hitler was right."

One of the motivating factors for the resolution was an email that a now-former Utah tech company executive sent to dozens of CEOs and political leaders, including Governor Spencer Cox, claiming that "the Jews" were behind a conspiracy to kill people with COVID-19 vaccines. The furor surrounding Entrata founder Dave Bateman's email, which was first reported by FOX 13 News, led to his ouster from the company and condemnation from Silicon Slopes to Capitol Hill.

Rep. Owens confirmed the email was partly behind his decision to run the resolution.

"That’s not who Utah is and it was a really ugly episode that aired in the last few months," he told FOX 13 News on Wednesday.

Jewish community leaders say antisemitism is not who Utah is.

"Those acts, those episodes those incidents. That’s not Utah," said Rabbi Avremi Zippel of Chabad Lubavitch in Salt Lake City. "That doesn’t speak to the values of who we are as a state."

The resolution, he said, better represents Utahns.

"HCR15 is exactly who Utah is and what Utah is and what utah stands for," he said.

The resolution, which is a statement by the legislature, now heads to the Utah State Senate where it has support. Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, hugged Arent after her remarks at Wednesday's news conference.

"Not on our watch, not in our state, not in our communities," he said of antisemitism.

Governor Spencer Cox will sign the resolution, said his senior policy advisor Mike Mower.

"There is no room for hate in the Beehive state," said Mower.