Bipartisan Antisemitism Awareness Act Led by Senators Tim Scott, Bob Casey, and Rick Scott

Bipartisan Antisemitism Awareness Act Led by Senators Tim Scott, Bob Casey, and Rick Scott

Mateo Guillamont
Mateo Guillamont
|
April 18, 2024

Dozens of US Senators have backed a newly introduced bill that aims to counter the reported rise of antisemitic incidents across America's college campuses. 

The Antisemitism Awareness Act, jointly introduced by Senators Tim Scott (R-SC), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Rick Scott (R-FL) would codify antisemitism definitions for the purposes of Federal education regulations.

According to Senator Tim Scott’s office, the Department of Education (DOE) currently lacks a clear definition of antisemitism.

Such definitions are crucial, continued Scott, when DOE determines if antisemitic or anti-Israel behavior on campus is free speech or harassing, unlawful, or discriminatory conduct under the 1964 Civil Rights act.

Universities receiving Federal funds are subject to the DOE’s rules, regulations, and related laws. Failure to comply with these can result in Universities losing tens of millions in funding.

If passed, the bill would direct DOE to consider the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism when investigating alleged antisemitic acts on campus.

IHRA’s definition includes levying unjustified criticism against Israel in connection with the state’s Jewish identity. 

The bill would also direct the DOE to consider as antisemitic acts a host of antisemitism examples listed by the IHRA, including denying Israel’s right to exist. 

As reported by the Anti-Defamation League, antisemitic behavior increased 488% in the first 18 hours after Hamas’ terror attacks on October 7, 2023.

Senator Rick Scott claimed the Antisemitism Awareness Act would grant outfit the DOE with the tools necessary to enact consequences for individuals responsible for antisemitic behavior. 

“We can start holding people accountable today by passing legislation like the antisemitism Awareness Act. Hatred of this kind has no place on college campuses,” said Scott. 

Last November, Representative Aaron Bean (R-Fl) filed a bill to prevent colleges and universities enabling anti-Semitic attacks from receiving taxpayer funding, specifically federal student aid.

The act prohibits active participation or support of anti-Semitic behavior by higher-education institutions receiving public funds. Additionally, universities would be prevented from passively observing anti-Semitic or terrorist-related behavior but rather required to report such behavior.  

Neither Representative Bean nor Scott’s bills have passed their respective chambers. 

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Mateo Guillamont

Mateo Guillamont

Mateo is a Miami-based political reporter covering national and local politics

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