Georgia rep reintroduces Anti-Semitism Awareness Act...but will it pass?
- Georgia Republican Rep. Doug Collins reintroduced the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act to the House of Representatives.
- Campus Reform interviewed a supporter of the legislation from pro-Israel nonprofit StandWithUs.
- But not all are pleased with the legislation....
Campus Reform spoke Wednesday with a director from a nonprofit combating anti-Semitism after Georgia Republican Rep. Doug Collins reintroduced the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which would enable the Department of Education to investigate allegations of anti-Semitism on college campuses.
The bill, similar versions of which were introduced in 2016 and 2018, as reported by Mondoweiss, would add the definition of anti-Semitism as a form of discrimination covered under Title VI protections in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Specifically, the anti-Semitism definition used is the one adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which is also used by the U.S. Department of State: “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, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
The bill states that anti-Semitism remains an issue in public schools across the country, including colleges and universities.
“Anti-Semitism, and harassment on the basis of actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics with a religious group, remains a persistent, disturbing problem in elementary and secondary schools and on college campuses,” the bill states.
“The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act provides the Department of Education an effective tool for investigating whether prohibited discriminatory actions have become a barrier to learning,” Collins said in a press release. “We want to provide the department with the resources necessary to protect the First Amendment rights of students and to ensure all students receive equal educational opportunities.”
Carly Gammill, director of the StandWithUs Center for Combating anti-Semitism and council for litigation strategy, told Campus Reform that the bill is a response to an increasing amount of anti-Semitism on college campuses and public schools.
“The purpose of the legislation is to give Jewish students the same Title VI protection from discrimination that other minority groups enjoy -- no more, no less,” Gammill said.
Gammill told Campus Reform that the bill does not permit any infringement on First Amendment rights and “merely requires the Department of Education to ‘take into consideration’ the IHRA definition of antisemitism when assessing potential Title VI violations.”
But not all are in favor of the legislation.
“Supporters of Israel have become more brazen in painting almost any critique of Israel as anti-semitic while discarding free speech and academic freedom,” Duke University Ph.D. candidate Aman Aberra told Mondoweiss. “This produces a chilling effect, where students are less willing to wade into this issue, since it’s perceived as dangerous to their reputations or careers.”
Over the past year, Campus Reform has covered various related stories on college campuses. For example, the Department of Education opened an investigation into Williams College in May, after a pro-Israel student organization was denied official recognition by its college council.
At Syracuse University, students even received course credit for participating in an anti-Israel internship.
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