Senator Scott Champions Bill to Combat Antisemitism on College Campuses in Wake of Skyrocketing Incidents

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Congressman Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) introduced the Antisemitism Awareness Act, which directs the Department of Education to use of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism when investigating antisemitic acts on campus. Currently, the Department of Education lacks a clear definition of antisemitism when determining whether an antisemitic or anti-Israel incident on campus crosses the line from free speech into harassing, unlawful or discriminatory conduct.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, violent language and threats against the Jewish community and Israel increased 488% in the first 18 hours after Hamas’ terror attacks on October 7, 2023.

“Our nation’s institutions of higher learning have become hotbeds of antisemitism, especially in the wake of the brutal Hamas terror attacks against Israel and innocent civilians,” said Senator Tim Scott. “It’s critical the Department of Education has the tools and resources it needs to investigate antisemitism and root out this vile hatred wherever it rears its ugly head.”

“The amount of antisemitism we consistently see on college campuses is disturbing and unacceptable,” said Rep. Mike Lawler. “Colleges and universities have long been breeding grounds of antisemitism and the recent Hamas attack has taken it to the next level. Now, more than ever, it’s critical that we crack down on antisemitic hate within our own country. The Antisemitism Awareness Act is a strong step in the right direction on this front, providing the Department of Education with a clear definition of antisemitism in order to combat this scourge on college campuses. The fact is, antisemitism is rampant in our country and we must quash it as quickly as possible. I’m thankful for the bipartisan support of the Antisemitism Awareness Act and for the support from a wide range of Jewish organizations that are standing up, endorsing this legislation, and saying enough is enough. We must confront antisemitism at all times, unequivocally.”

The IHRA definition of antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, often expressed as hatred toward Jews, which includes:

  • Calling for, aiding or justifying the killing or harming of Jews;
  • Making dehumanizing, demonizing or stereotypical allegations about Jews or the power of Jews as a collective, such as the myth of a Jewish conspiracy or Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions;
  • Holocaust denialism;
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel than to the interests of their own nation;
  • Denying the Jewish people the right to self-determination. For example, claiming the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor (anti-Zionism); and
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

The Antisemitism Awareness Act is endorsed by the:

  • Republican Jewish Coalition;
  • Jewish Federations of North America;
    Orthodox Union;
  • Zionist Organization of America;
  • American Jewish Committee;
  • Israeli-American Council;
  • Christians United for Israel;
  • Endowment for Middle East Truth;
  • Hadassah; and
  • Council of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. 

Cosponsors of the Antisemitism Awareness Act include Senators Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.). 

Last week, Senator Scott introduced the Stop Antisemitism on College Campuses Act to defund college and universities that peddle antisemitism or authorize, fund or facilitate events that promote violent antisemitism.