update deskAntisemitism

Rep. Zeldin expected to reintroduce Anti-Semitism Awareness Act in Congress

If enacted, it would require the U.S. Department of Education to adopt the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism in evaluating incidents on college campuses and at other educational institutions.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.). Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.). Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) is expected to reintroduce the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act in the near future, a source with direct knowledge of the situation told JNS.

The congressman has been an outspoken critic of anti-Semitism, including from members of Congress such as Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

He is scheduled to announce his intention to reintroduce legislation that has been discussed in Congress, but not made it to the president’s desk, at the annual “Ray of Light in the Darkness Dinner” sponsored by the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) on Wednesday.

The Senate version was reintroduced in March by Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Bob Casey (D-Penn.).

If enacted, it would require the U.S. Department of Education to adopt the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism in evaluating incidents on college campuses and at other educational institutions.

“Anti-Semitism, and harassment on the basis of actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics with a religious group, remains a persistent, disturbing problem in elementary and secondary schools and on college campuses,” the Senate bill states. “Students from a range of diverse backgrounds, including Jewish, Arab Muslim, and Sikh students, are being threatened, harassed, or intimidated in their schools (including on their campuses) on the basis of their shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics including through harassing conduct that creates a hostile environment so severe, pervasive, or persistent so as to interfere with or limit some students’ ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or opportunities offered by schools.”

In the past, while pro-Israel groups, including EMET, have supported the measure, organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union have opposed it.

Towards the end of last year, Scott sought to insert the measure as a rider into must-pass spending legislation. A 35-day government shutdown ensued, due to U.S. President Donald Trump not getting $5 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The bill passed the Senate in 2016, but the House of Representatives did not take a vote due to time constraints.

Zeldin’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

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