Washington

South Carolina Legislature Mulls Bill to Help Fight Campus Anti-Semitism

A bill has been introduced in the South Carolina state legislature that would help fight anti-Semitism on college campuses by fully defining what exactly “anti-Semitism” means.

Bill H 3643 seeks to protect college students by employing the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism, which includes the following examples:

• Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews (often in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion).
• Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective—especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
• Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, the state of Israel, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
• 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 bill would also give state universities the legal means to fight anti-Jewish actions on their campuses. One hundred and thirteen of the state House of Representatives’ 124 members have co-sponsored the measure. Similar bills have already been introduced in Virginia and Tennessee.

“According to the latest FBI tracking, there were more Jewish hate crime victims than victims of all other religious groups combined. And nowhere is this problem worse than on college campuses where anti-Semitism is spiking at an alarming rate coast to coast,” stated Kenneth L. Marcus of the Louis D. Brandeis Center, who drafted the U.S. Department of Education’s policy to investigate anti-Semitism claims. “We are grateful to South Carolina Representative Alan D. Clemmons for his leadership in the national fight to combat escalating anti-Semitism.”

In testimony before the legislature, Marcus said that the bill provides “much-needed clarity, especially about assaults, vandalism, and other illegal conduct that is motivated by a hatred of Jews. This is particularly important for addressing and defining a core and often times confusing problem on campus, anti-Semitic incidents that have some relationship to anti-Israel activity. What I really like about this legislation is that it provides well-established tools for addressing Jew-hatred while steering clear of constitutionally protected speech.”

Officially defining anti-Semitic activities in order to limit their frequency has been used effectively in the United Kingdom. The University of Central Lancashire cancelled an event promoting the boycott of Israeli goods because it ran afoul of the UK’s recently-adopted definition of anti-Semitism.

[Photo:  Billy Hathorn / WikiCommons ]