US Senate passes act fighting anti-Semitism on campus

The Senate is stepping up efforts to fight anti-Semitism in the education system and is providing the authorities with the tools they need to do so. 

The US Senate on Thursday passed the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which seeks to adopt the US State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism so that the Education Department may consider it in investigating reports of religiously motivated campus crimes.

Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced the bipartisan bill in an effort to combat increasing incidents of anti-Semitism on college campuses nationwide. The law ensures the 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 (ADL) found that the number of anti-Semitic attacks at colleges and universities doubled in 2015.

The DOE’s Office for Civil Rights stated that they will not tolerate such incidents, but has not issued firm guidance on what constitutes anti-Semitism. The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act codifies the definition as one adopted by the State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.

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“It is incredibly important that we work together to stamp out anti-Semitism and other forms of religious discrimination across our country,” Scott said when he introduced the bill last month. He added that the bill 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,” 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.”

The State Department’s definition, shared by the European Union (EU), states that 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.”

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News