Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at lowering the rising tide of anti-Semitism on campuses across the U.S.
The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, if enacted, would require the U.S. Department of Education to adopt the State Department's definition of anti-Semitism. The State Department defines anti-Semitism as "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, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities."
According to Alyza Lewin of the Louis D. Brandeis Center, a hindrance to prosecuting incidences of anti-Semitism has been knowing how to define it. The Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education, she says, has never found a single violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
"If there are anti-Semitic incidents that are reported for investigation to the Office of Civil Rights, then they would use Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to evaluate those complaints," she explains. "... This law would give them a definition of anti-Semitism so that they could use that definition in their investigation."
The U.S. Senate approved a similar bill in 2016 but the companion House bill was introduced too late in the term to pass. Lewin says the bill now before the House has also been reintroduced in the Senate.
"It's been tweaked a little bit to address any of the First Amendment concerns," she tells OneNewsNow. "And so our hope now is that this new bill that's being introduced in both the House and Senate will be able to move forward."
One of the Senate sponsors is Senator Tim Scott (R-South Carolina). His state recently became the first to pass legislation to fight anti-Semitism on campuses.