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South Carolina defines anti-Semitism as ‘demonizing Israel’ in campus bias investigations

Stalled bill gets approved in budget

The State Department defines anti-Semitism as “demonizing Israel, applying a double standard to Israel and delegitimizing Israel.”

Starting in July, so will public colleges in South Carolina – assuming the language survives reconciliation between the state House and Senate.

Language from a bill approved a year ago by the House that stalled in the Senate was inserted into the state’s $8 billion budget, which as of Thursday night has passed both chambers, The Post and Courier reports.

Because of the budget maneuver, the law would only set the definition of anti-Semitism on campus for the fiscal year that starts in July. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the language is likely to survive reconciliation.

In an email blast Friday, the Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law said Republican Gov. Henry McMaster previously endorsed the language and has pledged to sign it into law.

The uniform definition would be consulted when public colleges are “reviewing, investigating, or deciding whether there has been a violation of an institutional policy prohibiting discriminatory practices on the basis of religion,” the language reads. It explicitly says the definition is not to be “construed to diminish or infringe upon” rights in the First Amendment or state constitution.

The anti-Semitism definition was never intended as an “enforcement tool” by the State Department, according to JTA:

The bill uses as its template the State Department definition of anti-Semitism, which includes as anti-Semitic calls for violence against Jews, advancing conspiracy theories about Jewish control and Holocaust denial. More controversially, it also includes “applying double standards” to Israel “by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

It was shepherded by Republican Rep. Alan Clemmons and Sen. Larry Grooms.

Pro-Israel educational organization StandWithUs praised the language approval.

“We have been dismayed by the rise of anti-Semitism, including harassment, intimidation and vandalism against Jewish students,” CEO Roz Rothstein said in a written statement: “With a clear definition of anti-Jewish bigotry, law enforcement and administrators will be better equipped to prosecute and prevent hate crimes.”

The Brandeis Center’s Aviva Vogelstein praised South Carolina for following up on its first-in-the-nation ban on state entities contracting with businesses that endorse anti-Israel boycotts.

“This bill gives South Carolina the tools to protect Jewish students’ and all South Carolina students’ right to a learning environment free of unlawful discrimination,” and “we are hoping this momentous step will result in another national wave to, once and for all, begin defeating rising anti-Semitism,” she said.

Joseph Sabag of the Israel Allies Foundation said the language will only be deployed “in instances when it is necessary to determine the intent of constitutionally unprotected activities, including assault, battery, harassment, intimidation and vandalism,” while protecting against “unlawful suppression of speech to ensure that all views can be fully expressed.”

Read the Post and JTA reports and original legislation.

IMAGE: amid999/Shutterstock

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