2018 & 2019 :
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act
Worldwide Report on 2018
2018-MAY-23: The U.S. Senate introduced a controversial anti-semitism awareness bill S.2940:
Senator Tim Scott [R-SC] introduced the bill to the Senate. 1 It was cosponsored by five Senators: three Democrats and two Republicans. 2 It was read twice and then referred to the Senate's Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. As of 2019-MAY-04, it had not progressed further.
It was actively opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the principal organization defending free speech in the U.S. They wrote:
"The bill directs the Department of Education to consider a wide range of examples of speech critical of Israel in assessing whether a school has violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by tolerating anti-Semitic harassment.
By equating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, the bill is likely to cause college campuses to stifle protected speech in order to avoid investigations by the Department of Education. Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in programs receiving federal financial assistance, including higher education. It has been interpreted to include discrimination motivated by animus against Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and others. This law would go further, by dangerously equating criticism of [the State of] Israel with anti-Semitism. 3
Anthony Romero, the Executive Director of the ACLU issued a statement saying:
"Anti-Semitic harassment has no legitimate place in government-funded institutions, just as anti-Muslim and racial and sexual harassment have no place. Jewish people, like people of other faiths, must be protected against harassment and discrimination. Anti-Semitism is a serious problem in the United States, as evidenced by statistics put forward every year by the FBI. Religious liberty is a fundamental right under our Constitution and protecting every individual’s right to practice their faith if they choose is at the core of the ACLU’s values and advocacy.
“Unfortunately, the proposed bill risks chilling constitutionally protected speech by incorrectly equating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. And there is no need for a new bill to protect students from anti-Semitic harassment, because that is already prohibited under Title VI. We worry that the law will lead colleges to suppress speech, especially if the Department of Education launches investigations simply because students have engaged in speech critical of Israel. College campuses should be havens for free expression, and students must be free to express their opinions and viewpoints, so long as they avoid harassment. We urge Congress to reject this dangerous and unnecessary bill." 3
On 2019-MAY-01, a few days after the attack by a lone gunman of a mosque in Poway, CA, Suzanne Nossel, writing for the Foreign Policy web site, said:
"Animus toward Jews is taking root in a new generation, and purveyors of hatred seem to be emboldened. Ignorance of the legacy of anti-Jewish discrimination is widespread, and the intensified campaigns in recent years to expose and root out the invidious stereotypes, biases, and bigotries that pockmark American society have sometimes left anti-Semitism out. U.S. lawmakers are right to seek legislative solutions. Unfortunately, the lone piece of legislation currently before Congress on this issue doesn’t offer one. As currently drafted, the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act would do little to ward off anti-Semitism and risks instead fueling a partisan shouting match that uses anti-Semitism to score political points and would only fan the flames of conflicts over Israel on U.S. college campuses. Lawmakers, Jewish communities, and civil and human rights advocates should focus instead on more targeted and effective approaches to combating this rising scourge." 4
Also, on 2019-MAY-01, the Kantor Center at Tel Aviv University in Israel issued their Antisemitism Worldwide 2018 Report. It said:
"The most disturbing finding identified in 2018, is the sense of insecurity prevalent among Jews and confirmed by surveys. They do not feel an integral part of society anymore and sometimes they even sense a state of emergency. Antisemitism is mainstreaming, even normalized as a constant presence, in the public as well as in the private sphere. [Worldwide, a] ... rise of 13% in the number of major violent antisemitic incidents was registered; [a total of] 13 Jews were murdered." 5,6
Of the 13 Jews who were murdered worldwide during 2018, 11 of them were shot during an attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue on 2018-OCT-27. Six months later, on 2019-APR-27, a lone gunman murdered one person and injured three in an attack on a Poway, CA synagogue. Many more probably would have been murdered, but his rifle allegedly jammed.
The Kantor Center report listed a 60% increase of cases of all types of anti-semitic incidents during 2018 In Italy, 25% in South Africa, 16% in the UK, 74% in France, and 59% in Australia.
In the U.S. the overall number of incidents declined from 1,986 to 1,879. However, the number of physical assaults almost tripled, from 21 to 59. Also, the mass shooting in Pittsburgh was the most serious loss of life among Jews in the history of the U.S.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "S.2940 - Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2018," U.S. Congress, at: https://www.congress.gov/
- "Cosponsors: S/2940." U.S. Congress, at: https://www.congress.gov/
- "ACLU statement on Senate introduction of 'Anti-Semitism Awareness Act'" American Civil Liberties Union, 2018-MAY-23, at: https://www.aclu.org/
- Suzanne Nossel, "Congress’s Anti-Semitism Act Won’t Stop Hate Crimes Against Jews," Foreign Policy. 2019-MAY-01, at: https://foreignpolicy.com/
- "Antisemitism Worldwide 2018 Report is Released," Kantor Center, 2019-MAY-01, at: http://www.kantorcenter.tau.ac.il/
- Madeline Roache,
"Surge in Anti-Semitic Attacks Has Caused a 'Sense of Emergency' Among Jews Worldwide, New Report Says," Time, 2019-MAY-02, at: http://time.com/
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Copyright © Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Author: B.A. Robinson
Originally posted on: 2019-MAY-04