Contact: Nicole Rosen

Santa Cruz, CA, December 2, 2016 – Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA Initiative co-founder and director, issued the following statement applauding the U.S. Senate and Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tim Scott (R-SC), the bill authors, for passing the bipartisan Anti-Semitism Awareness Act late yesterday:

“We applaud the Senate for unanimously passing the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act and for understanding that giving the Department of Education a proper definition of contemporary anti-Semitism is key to combatting and preventing anti-Jewish bigotry on campus. This missing link has long been a huge obstacle in the effort to stem the alarming rise of campus anti-Semitism. And we strongly commend Senators Casey and Scott for authoring and introducing this critical measure.

“What is happening to Jewish students on campuses coast to coast is ugly and frightening and it is only getting worse. And sadly it is coming from all sides. In the past month, we have documented a huge uptick in incidents involving classic, anti-Jewish stereotypes. But for many years the spike in anti-Semitism on campus has been linked to extreme anti-Israel activity, especially BDS campaigns. Our 2016 mid-year study of top 100 universities by Jewish population found a 45% increase in campus anti-Semitism as compared with the same period in 2015. And the suppression of Jewish students’ speech and the disruption and/or shutting down of Jewish events by protesters nearly doubled compared with years past. Our research showed that the presence of BDS activities, anti-Zionist student groups and anti-Zionist faculty were the strongest predictors of anti-Semitism on campus.

“The State Department’s definition, a definition endorsed by the world’s leading scholars of anti-Semitism, is the only definition that encapsulates the way anti-Semitism presents itself on campus today, including those acts that cross the line from criticism of Israel into blatant anti-Semitism, and having the Department of Education begin using it is long overdue. We look forward to helping Representatives Roskam, Deutch, Lowey, Engel, Ros-Lehtinen, Granger, Israel, and Smith, the co-chairs of the Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism, pass this legislation in the House. These Senators and Representatives have been true leaders in the battle to protect Jewish students.”

Below are press releases from Senators Casey and Scott and Representatives Roskam and Deutch with more information on the legislation.

AMCHA Initiative is a non-profit organization dedicated to combating, monitoring and documenting anti-Semitism at institutions of higher education in America.


With Attacks On The Rise, Sens. Casey and Scott Introduce Bipartisan Anti-Semitism Awareness Act

Washington, DC, November 29, 2016 – Today, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced the bipartisan Anti-Semitism Awareness Act in an effort to combat increasing incidents of anti-Semitism on college campuses nationwide. The Senators joined together to ensure the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has the necessary statutory tools at their disposal to investigate anti-Jewish incidents.

A recent FBI crime report notes that 58.2 percent of religiously-motivated hate crimes were due to the offender’s anti-Jewish leanings, and the Anti-Defamation League found that the number of anti-Semitic attacks at colleges and universities doubled in 2015. Currently, the DOE’s Office for Civil Rights has stated they will not tolerate incidents such as these, but has not issued firm guidance on what constitutes anti-Semitism. The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act would codify the definition as one adopted by the U.S. State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.

“It is incredibly important that we work together to stamp out anti-Semitism and other forms of religious discrimination across our country,” Senator Scott said. “I want to thank Senator Casey for joining me to introduce the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which is urgently needed as anti-Jewish attacks rise on campuses across the nation. By clarifying exactly what anti-Semitism is, we will leave no question as to what constitutes an anti-Semitic incident.”

“The rise of religiously-motivated hate crimes and religious discrimination across our country is unacceptable. In Pennsylvania, we have seen several terrible incidents of anti-Semitism in just the last several weeks,” Senator Casey said. “This legislation will help the Department of Education investigate incidents of discrimination motivated by anti-Semitism in our schools, which should be safe environments for students from all backgrounds. I’m proud to work with Senator Scott on this bill, which aims to combat anti-Semitism while preserving freedom of speech.”

The State Department’s definition, shared by the European Union, states, “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, towards Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Examples include, among other things:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews
  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust
  • Demonizing Israel by blaming it for all inter-religious or political tensions
  • Judge Israel by a double standard that one would not apply to any other democratic nation

This act is not meant to infringe on any individual right protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act is supported by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federations of North America, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.


Roskam, Deutch Target Campus Anti-Semitism

Washington, D.C., December 2, 2016 – Today, U.S. Representatives Peter J. Roskam (R-IL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) introduced bipartisan legislation to combat the rising tide of anti-Semitism at our nation’s college campuses. The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act broadens the Department of Education’s (DOE) criteria to include all forms of discrimination against Jews, including extreme anti-Zionism and anti-Israel harassment. This legislation will equip the DOE to accurately identify, investigate, and punish all forms of Jew-hatred.

Anti-Semitic attacks on college campuses have nearly doubled in recent years according to recent reports. Although the DOE’s Office for Civil Rights has actively combatted these incidents, the Department lacks firm statutory guidance on how to define anti-Semitism. By codifying the definition of anti-Semitism adopted by the U.S. State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, this legislation will enable the DOE to protect students from the most insidious and modern forms of anti-Semitism, which are often masked as anti-Zionism.

Per the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism, shared by the European Parliament Working Group, “[a]nti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Examples of anti-Semitism under this definition include the following:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective.
  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interest of their own nations.

The State Department’s definition also defines the three “Ds,” which indicate when anti-Israel rhetoric is indeed anti-Semitic:

  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation
  • Multilateral organizations focusing on Israel only for peace or human rights investigations
  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist

    See the full State Department definition here.

    Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Kay Granger (R-TX), and Steve Israel (D-NY), who serve alongside Reps. Roskam and Deutch as Co-Chairs of the House of Representatives Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism, are original co-sponsors of the legislation.

    Read the full text of the bill here.