House considering similar bill that gives the D.O.E a proper definition of contemporary anti-Semitism – the missing key to combatting and preventing anti-Jewish bigotry on campus.
AMCHA Lauds U.S. Senate’s Unanimous Passage of Anti-Semitism Awareness Act
Critical Step to Combat Anti-Semitism;
Version of Senate Bill Now Being Considered by the House of Representatives
AMCHA Initiative applauds the U.S. Senate for unanimously passing the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act last week and for understanding that giving the Department of Education a proper definition of contemporary anti-Semitism, including anti-Semitic anti-Zionism, 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.
We strongly commend U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tim Scott (R-SC) for authoring and introducing this critical measure in the Senate, and Representatives Peter J. Roskam (R-IL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) for introducing similar legislation in the House, which was co-sponsored by 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.
What is happening to Jewish students on campuses coast to coast is ugly and frightening and it is only getting worse. Sadly, it is coming from all sides. In the past month, AMCHA has documented a huge uptick in incidents involving classic, anti-Jewish stereotypes. However, 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. AMCHA’s 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 an important 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.
The press release of Senators Casey and Scott outlines that, “Currently, the DOE’s Office for Civil Rights has stated they will not tolerate [anti-Semitic] incidents…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. The State Department’s definition…[includes] examples, among other things [of]:
- 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.
- Judging Israel by a double standard that one would not apply to any other democratic nation.”
The press release of Representatives Roskam and Deutch follows with explanatory text on the introduction of the House version of the Senate bill following its passage in the Senate. The press release links to studies by AMCHA and the ADL stating, “Anti-Semitic attacks on college campuses have nearly doubled in recent years according to recent reports…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.”
AMCHA looks forward to helping Representatives Roskam, Deutch, Lowey, Engel, Ros-Lehtinen, Granger, Israel, and Smith pass this legislation in the House.
These Senators and Representatives have been true leaders in the battle to protect Jewish students, and we fully commend their hard work on this legislation.
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