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December 4, 2016 5:59 am

Human Rights Expert Says Unanimous Passage of Senate Antisemitism Bill Will Have ‘Ripple Effect’ on US Campuses

avatar by Lea Speyer

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The US Capitol building. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The US Capitol building. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A newly passed US Senate bill advancing the fight against antisemitism will have a “ripple effect” on educational institutions, the head of a Jewish human rights organization told The Algemeiner on Friday.

Kenneth Marcus — president and general counsel at the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law — was referring to the unanimous passage on Thursday of the bipartisan Antisemitism Awareness Act of 2016, which identifies the phenomenon as a “persistent, disturbing problem in elementary and secondary schools and on college campuses.” It also demands that the Department of Education take into consideration the definition of antisemitism set forth by the State Department and its Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism.

According to the bill:

Awareness of this definition of antisemitism will increase understanding of the parameters of contemporary anti-Jewish conduct and will assist the Department of Education in determining whether an investigation of antisemitism under Title VI [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964] is warranted.

“At every university, the general counsel will need to advise the administration on this new federal guidance,” Marcus told The Algemeiner. “And university policy will need to be revised to reflect it.” 

The Antisemitism Awareness Act has faced criticism from members of the anti-Israel movement, which accuses it of hindering freedom of speech.

Rejecting this claim, Marcus said that the authors of the bill — Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tim Scott (R-SC) — “were very smart” in their wording, to avoid infringing on any rights.

“The First Amendment protects a lot of antisemitic speech, just as it protects lots of racist, sexist and homophobic speech. This bill wouldn’t change that. The point is that some activities are not constitutionally protected, and this bill would help the Department of Education identify which of them are antisemitic,” he said.

As Jewish students have become increasingly vulnerable targets on college campuses, Marcus said, “It’s about time the government take action.”

“Some of us have been pointing out for several years that antisemitic incidents are surging and need to be addressed. Over the last couple of years, the levels have become so unacceptable that Congress is beginning to take notice,” he added.

According to a recently published FBI Hate Crime Statistic Report, 2015 saw a major spike in antisemitism in the US, with Jew-hatred accounting for 51.3 percent of  all victims targeted due to religious bias. A total of 664 antisemitic incidents were recorded.

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  • Kish Mirtuches

    President Obama has “punched” Israel in the nose far too many times, in public, over the last eight years. Children watch and listen to their parents. Young adults…college students….watch and listen to their POTUS. The increase in anti-Semitism is directly related to the current POTUS and the signals he sends out to the world.

  • Russ

    The question is not whether the law will be effective, but what system is put in place to enforce it.

  • solange

    It seems to me that the rise in antisemitic activity has a direct correlation to the rise in Muslim immigrants, just as it has in Europe. Jew hatred is built into the koran, Muslims are using this to fuel the fires. On campuses, we see those behind Jew hatred at demonstrations and other gatherings are always pushing the “Palestinian” agenda.

  • Melissa Howe Pomeranz

    That’s why this is guidance legislation, not a law.

  • Anatoly

    May be, what is needed in legal terms is “A LAW TO ENFORCE THE LAW”!

  • Peter Joffe

    Antisemitism is racist. Racism is a crime so close down these institutions of mass racism. These campuses are breeding grounds for Islam and hatred or at best mass stupidity. Join a university to get a better education and you come out with a degree in hatred and stupidity. Bsc Master of Jihad.

  • watsa46

    Just like the laws against illegal in-migrations!

  • watsa46

    That will not affect the massive number of antisemitic Jews and others that have hijacked middle and higher academia.

  • MikeBro

    Charges must be lodged or a lawsuit filed in order for the laws to be enforced, except in cases where police can make the charge as part of a related crime. Those affected should be sure to gather evidence and file a lawsuit. The court system will enforce the law and clarify it as it pertains to various situations.

  • Jonah

    Their is a new sherif in town Hammon is exiting stage left the university’s will now acknowledge antisemitism or else. It’s time for the left wing Jew hating academia to get the hell out of dodge.

  • The Antisemitism Awareness Act of 2016 is not a law, yet. If it becomes a law, it won’t address the problem, where college administrators allow Anti-Israel bigots to hide behind the First Amendment. And any form of Jew-hatred, whether directed toward Israel or individual Jews, must never be protected by the First Amendment.

  • Nuritg

    Now we shall see if the education institutes, whether elementary, high school, or higher education, ALL LEFTISTS who do not like Jews and Israel, will abide by the new law. In the higher educations it is the Moslems whose trajectory is hate of Jews who cause the anti-Semitism ripple and joining them are the “Liberal-Progressive” fools

  • bigrobtheactor

    “If I am not for me who will be for me?” Become willing to make a sacrifice.

  • bigrobtheactor

    Baseball bats and lacrosse sticks. Give them the incentive to enforce the laws. Be willing to make a sacrifice.

  • Abelardy

    The weakness of the BDS movement is that boycotting Israel (meaning Jews) or divesting or sanctions (again against Jews) is illegal under US and EU anti-discrimination laws. While advocating BDS may be protected by the First Amendment, actually doing it violates federal and state laws.