US Senate unanimously passes Antisemitism Awareness Act adopting International Definition of Antisemitism
The United States Senate has unanimously passed the Antisemitism Awareness Act, which requires the US Department of Education to use the International Definition of Antisemitism “In reviewing, investigating, or deciding whether there has been a violation of title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964”.
The Act specifically notes that “Antisemitism remains a persistent, disturbing problem in elementary and secondary schools and on college campuses. Jewish 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.” It also particularly praises the International Definition for including “useful examples of discriminatory anti-Israel conduct that crosses the line into antisemitism.”
The legislation was proposed by Senators Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, and Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican, who said in a statement that the purpose of the Act was to “ensure the Education Department has the necessary statutory tools at their disposal to investigate anti-Jewish incidents.”
In 2005, the EU Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), now the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), adopted a “working definition on antisemitism” which became the standard definition used around the world, including by the European Parliament, the UK College of Policing, the US Department of State, and the 31 countries comprising the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. The US Senate is the latest body to formally adopt it.
Earlier this year, the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee joined Campaign Against Antisemitism’s longstanding call for the British Government and its agencies, as well as all political parties, to formally adopt the International Definition of Antisemitism, and for educational institutions to use it in disciplinary cases.