Senators aim to crack down on campus anti-Semitism, of which there is plenty

A new bill in Congress aims to crack down on anti-Semitism on college campuses.

The bi-partisan bill would require that the Department of Education use the State Department's definition of anti-Semitism when investigating such incidents.

The U.S. Senate is considering legislation that would require the Department of Education to use the Department of State’s definition of anti-Semitism when looking at cases of discrimination on college campuses and secondary schools.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. and Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa. introduced the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act with the intention of combating the rise of anti-Semitism not only on college campuses but in all schools.

“Students from a range of diverse backgrounds, including Jewish, Arab Muslim, and Sikh students, are being threatened, harassed, or intimidated in their schools (including on their campuses) on the basis of their shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics including through harassing conduct that creates a hostile environment so severe, pervasive, or persistent so as to interfere with or limit some students’ ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or opportunities offered by schools,” the bill states.

A press release from Scott’s office states that anti-Semitic events have almost doubled in 2018 compared to 2016.

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”The rise in incidents of religious discrimination and religiously-motivated hate crimes around the world is completely unacceptable,” Casey said in the press release. “We have to not only condemn it but work to stop it.”

The move by the senators comes amid growing allegations of anti-Semitism against members of Congress, including Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.

In the press release, Scott said that America must fight against anti-Semitism and make sure that these incidents do not divide us.

“The unfortunate rise in these incidents across the country must be met with swift and unwavering condemnation,” Scott said. “We must stand together against racism and bigotry by ensuring that justice is served against those who seek to divide us.”

The bill was introduced and passed in the Senate in 2016, but according to Jewish News Syndicate, was not put up for a vote in the House of Representatives due to a timing constraint. According to the bill, the Department of Education would be forced to use the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism when investigating possible violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of StandWithUs, an international Israel education organization, told Campus Reform the group is supportive of this bill and agree that anti-Semitism on college campuses is a huge issue.

”We fully support this legislation and thank Senators Scott and Casey. As ant-Semitism grows on campuses across America, it is more important than ever for Jewish students to be protected from this rising hate,” Rothstein said. “Adopting a clear definition of antisemitism for law enforcement to use when investigating unlawful conduct -- one that has been accepted by 31 nations -- is an important step in this direction.”

Scott’s office, when contacted by Campus Reform, referred back to the senator’s quote from the press release. 

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During a recent interview with Fox & Friends, Scott referenced a drastic recent spike in reported anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses, many of which Campus Reform has documented. Multiple student protests and student governments have pushed for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions measures, among the most recent being Brown University. These measures are viewed by many pro-Israel individuals and groups as anti-Semitic.

The University of North Carolina-Asheville recently hosted Women’s March co-president Tamika Mallory, who previously failed to condemn Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Farrakhan, widely perceived to be anti-Semitic, has referred to Adolf Hitler as a “very great man” and compared Jewish people to “termites.” And, at the University of Michigan, a professor refused to write a letter of recommendation for a student seeking to study abroad because the program was based in Israel. 

More notably, an “outwardly observant Jew and Zionist” administrator at the City University of New York in September demanded that his school provide security from what he described as a “coordinated harassment and discrimination campaign” that had him “fearing for his life.” In yet another example, a University of Maryland professor, who is Jewish, alleged in May 2018 that she was fired because of her pro-Israel views.

“Once my involvement with Israel became political, that is when things started to change,” the professor said at the time.

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