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Praise for Bipartisan Anti-Semitism Awareness Act

December 6th 2016

Today, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) praised the bipartisan legislation to fight anti-Semitism on college campuses around the country. The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, introduced by U.S. Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Bob Casey (D-PA), and passed unanimously, will provide the Department of Education (DOE) the necessary statutory tools to examine anti-Semitic incidents in the most broadest and effective way possible. Additionally, it was very encouraging to see the companion bill  introduced by Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL). The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act will mirror the State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism definition of anti-Semitism which includes the critical language where anti-Israel conduct crosses the line into anti-Semitism. As such, the new Act enhances the Department of Education’s (DOE) ability to identify, investigate, and punish all forms of anti-Semitism, including anti-Zionism and anti-Israel harassment.
 
When asked about the Act, Senator Casey listed the following examples of anti-Semitism in his explanation of the bill:

    • 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 interreligious or political tensions

    • Judge Israel by a double standard that one would not apply to any other democratic nation

Further, the Act also recognizes that according to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 both the Department of Justice and the Department of Education have properly concluded that it “prohibits discrimination against Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and members of other religious groups when the discrimination is based on the group’s actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics or when the discrimination is based on actual or perceived citizenship or residence in a country whose residents share a dominant religion or a distinct religious identity.”

I commend Senators Scott and Casey, and Representatives Roskam and Deutch, for understanding the growing threat of anti-Semitism and introducing these two complementary pieces of legislation as they will help ensure that our faculty and students can continue to support Israel without hesitation on their campuses.


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