Press Release: IAF applauds South Carolina House Vote on Anti-Semitism Bill

Press Release: IAF applauds South Carolina House Vote on Anti-Semitism Bill

March 9, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC – Joseph Sabag, National U.S. Director for the Israel Allies Foundation, released the following statement today in response to the South Carolina House of Representatives’ legislative repudiation of anti-Semitism in their state:

“The House today voted 103-3 in overwhelming support to pass H. 3643, after a particularly powerful floor speech by the great Rep. Alan Clemmons (available for viewing here). The timing could not be more appropriate, given the targeting of Jewish schools and community institutions we are now witnessing almost daily. This unprecedented bill will give South Carolina’s state educational institutions the ability to ensure that incidents of anti-Semitism are properly responded to while simultaneously protecting free speech rights. For the past few years South Carolina, and specifically Rep. Alan Clemmons, have been bravely leading the way with badly needed legislation like H. 3643. It should be noted that Clemmons and South Carolina lead the nation in efforts to legislatively combat the BDS Movement, and it is certainly our expectation that additional state legislatures will now again follow suit and stand squarely against other manifestations of anti-Semitism as well,” stated Sabag.

If passed the bill would require that “In reviewing, investigating, or deciding whether there has been a violation of a college or university policy prohibiting discriminatory practices on the basis of religion, South Carolina public colleges and universities shall take into consideration the definition of anti-Semitism for purposes of determining whether the alleged practice was motivated by anti-Semitic intent.”

As pointed out by our partners at the Louis D. Brandeis center: “Anti-Semitism is an urgent and compounding problem across the nation. Jewish hate crime victims, totaling 664 in 2015 according to the FBI’s Hate Crime Report, outnumber victims of all other religious groups combined (580 victims). A Brandeis Center-Trinity College study found that 54 percent of Jewish students reported experiencing or witnessing anti-Semitism in 2014. And the situation is getting worse. An AMCHA Initiative study reports a 45 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the first half of 2016 as compared to the same period in 2015.”

The South Carolina bill is carefully designed to protect students’ First Amendment rights. H. 3643 in no way regulates or restricts free speech and/or academic freedom. Rather, the bill ensures that authorities consider the U.S. Department of State’s definition of anti-Semitism in instances when it is necessary to determine the intent of unprotected activities, including assault, battery and vandalism.

The bill received unanimous consent for a third reading tomorrow. In response to today’s victory, bill author and lead sponsor Rep. Alan Clemmons stated:

“Anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise across America and especially on our college campuses. I believe this is an overdue and appropriate response that will strengthen our state’s preparedness to deal with acts of anti-Semitism. I wish to thank the professionals at the Israel Allies Foundation and the Louis D. Brandeis center for their important legal and policy assistance. This bill would not be where it is today without their expertise and resourcing. I am a proud of the South Carolina legislature’s leadership role in this battle.”

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Contact: Jordanna McMillan - j.mcmillan@israelallies.org

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