US/World News

House introduces version of Senate bill targeting campus antisemitism

(JTA) – A bipartisan slate of leading House members introduced a bill that would expand how the Department of Education defines antisemitism in advising learning institutions on how to identify discrimination. The bill introduced last Friday by Reps. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., and Ted Deutch, D-Fla., replicates a similar bill passed last week by the Senate, which was sponsored by Sens. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and Bob Casey, D-Pa. Senior House of Representatives members including Reps. Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey, both D-N.Y., and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., are backing the bill.

The measure expands previous guidelines sent periodically to educational institutions receiving federal funding to define antisemitism according to a definition first published by the State Department in 2010. That bill adopts the definition set forth by the European Parliament Working Group on Anti-Semitism: “Anti-Semitism is 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.”

Both definitions also outline when criticism of Israel crosses into antisemitism, citing the “three D’s” first advanced by Natan Sharansky, the Israeli politician and former prisoner of the Soviet gulag: Demonization, double standard and delegitimization.

The Anti-Defamation League, which has led lobbying for the legislation, said the bill, should it become law, “addresses a core concern of Jewish and pro-Israel students and parents: When does the expression of antisemitism, anti-Israel sentiment and anti-Zionist beliefs cross the line from First Amendment-protected free expression to unlawful discriminatory conduct?”

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