US/World News

South Carolina House endorses State Dept. definition of antisemitism

(JTA) – South Carolina’s House of Representatives passed a bill endorsing the U.S. State Department’s definition of antisemitism as part of an effort to fight discrimination on college campuses. The bill, which passed unanimously on Friday, March 10, defines antisemitism to include the State Department’s definition, which considers demonizing, delegitimizing or applying a double standard to Israel to be forms of antisemitism. Under the South Carolina bill, the new definition would be used in probes of possible antisemitism at state colleges and universities. The pro-Israel groups Stand With Us and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, a nonprofit that conducts research on campus antisemitism, hailed the measure. “We applaud the South Carolina legislators for standing up against this growing anti-Jewish bigotry, and in a way that fully protects free speech on campus,” the Brandeis Center’s president, Kenneth Marcus, said in a Friday statement. The State Department definition has drawn criticism for deeming certain types of criticism of Israel to be antisemitic. “This language would shut down legitimate debate on South Carolina campuses about policies of the state of Israel and would equate criticism of Israel with anti-Jewish racism,” said Caroline Nagel, a professor at the University of South Carolina.

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