Today, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced the bipartisan Anti-Semitism Awareness Act in an effort to combat increasing incidents of anti-Semitism on college campuses nationwide. The Senators joined together to ensure the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has the necessary statutory tools at their disposal to investigate anti-Jewish incidents.
A recent FBI crime report notes that 58.2 percent of religiously-motivated hate crimes were due to the offender's anti-Jewish leanings, and the Anti-Defamation League found that the number of anti-Semitic attacks at colleges and universities doubled in 2015. Currently, the DOE's Office for Civil Rights has stated they will not tolerate incidents such as these, but has not issued firm guidance on what constitutes anti-Semitism. The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act would codify the definition as one adopted by the U.S. State Department's Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.
"It is incredibly important that we work together to stamp out anti-Semitism and other forms of religious discrimination across our country," Senator Scott said. "I want to thank Senator Casey for joining me to introduce the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which is urgently needed as anti-Jewish attacks rise on campuses across the nation. By clarifying exactly what anti-Semitism is, we will leave no question as to what constitutes an anti-Semitic incident."
"The rise of religiously-motivated hate crimes and religious discrimination across our country is unacceptable. In Pennsylvania, we have seen several terrible incidents of anti-Semitism in just the last several weeks," Senator Casey said. "This legislation will help the Department of Education investigate incidents of discrimination motivated by anti-Semitism in our schools, which should be safe environments for students from all backgrounds. I'm proud to work with Senator Scott on this bill, which aims to combat anti-Semitism while preserving freedom of speech."
The State Department's definition, shared by the European Union, states, "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, towards Jewish community institutions and religious facilities."
Examples include, among other things:
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 inter-religious or political tensions
Judge Israel by a double standard that one would not apply to any other democratic nation
This act is not meant to infringe on any individual right protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution.
The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act is supported by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federations of North America, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.