February 23, 2024
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Bipartisan Anti-Semitism Awareness Act Introduced in Congress to Help Fight On-Campus Hate

(Thetower.org) A bipartisan bill to fight the prevalence of anti-Semitism on campus was introduced in Congress, The Times of Israel reported Thursday.

The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which is sponsored by Rep Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), instructs the Department of Education to adopt the definition of anti-Semitism that was formulated by the State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism office in 2010.

The sponsors of the bill say that the Education Department needs criteria to identify anti-Semitism so that action can be taken against those who violate U.S. anti-discrimination laws.

A 2016 Brandeis University study found that campuses with anti-Israel boycott movements had a greater number of anti-Semitic incidents. An Amcha Initiative study earlier that year also found a strong correlation between anti-Israel campus activism and anti-Semitism.

“I’ve heard far too many stories from Jewish students of the anti-Semitism they face in schools and on college campuses every day,” one of the sponsors, Deutch, said.

“Jewish students, like students of any religion, should not live in fear of attacks because of their religion. They shouldn’t have to fear wearing Judaic symbols or expressing their support for Israel. As we work to combat all forms of discrimination and hate, Congress must act to protect Jewish students on campus, and this legislation would help the Education Department stem this troubling trend.”

“At a time of rising incidents of anti-Semitism, this legislation addresses a core concern of Jewish and pro-Israel students and parents: When does the expression of anti-Semitism, anti-Israel and anti-Zionist sentiments cross the line from First Amendment-protected free expression to harassing, unlawful, discriminatory conduct?” Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the ADL, said, pushing back against claims that the legislation would stifle free speech.

The ACLU opposes the legislation, saying it will target legitimate criticism of Israel. However, the State Department working definition of anti-Semitism clearly states: “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.”

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