South Carolina became the first state to adopt a uniform definition of anti-Semitism, set to take effect next year, The Jerusalem Post reported Monday. Signed into law on July 6 as part of the next year’s budget legislation by Gov. Henry McMaster, the legislation requires universities to take the state’s definition into account when reviewing charges of anti-Semitism – a problem, which has increased on campuses at an alarming rate.
The legislation passed the state Senate in April.
The bill uses as guidelines the State Department definition of anti-Semitism, which includes anti-Semitic calls for violence against Jews, advancing conspiracy theories about Jewish control and Holocaust denial.
The campaign to pass the legislation was set into motion last year by Republican State Rep. Alan Clemmons, who authored the first bill condemning the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
“When Jewish families make the decision to send their children to a South Carolina institution of higher education, they may rest assured that anti-Semitic incidents will be treated with the same degree of seriousness as other acts of discrimination on campus,” said Clemmons.
“The South Carolina Legislature abhors discrimination against all races, ethnicities and religions. This law takes into account the documented disproportionate rise of anti-Jewish hate and prohibits such acts from being swept under the administrative carpet of South Carolina colleges and universities.”
Critics of the law have raised concerns that the bill could infringe on the right to free speech. Gov. McMaster, however, clarified that the legislation only targets acts of harassment, assault, and vandalism.
In 2015, South Carolina became the first state to adopt legislation barring the state from doing business with any firm that boycotts Israel. The bill was signed into law by then-South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, now the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. In May of this year, Louisiana became the 25th state to adopt anti-BDS legislation.
[Photo: QuesterMark / Flickr]