We need to pass the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act to fight hate and bigotry
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For the past 10 years, the FBI’s Statistics on Hate Crimes show that the number of anti-Semitic victims has remained higher than any other religious category. And within the last year alone, anti-Semitic hate crimes rose nine percent.

These incidents are not limited to the threats at Jewish institutions, but they are also taking place on college campuses —  big and small, public and private — across the country. In classrooms, libraries, and dormitories, Jewish students are being harassed and discriminated against because of their faith.

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The Anti-Defamation League’s annual audit of anti-Semitic incidents reported that there were 90 anti-Jewish incidents across 60 college campuses in 2015. An initiative focused on protecting Jewish students found that in the first six months of 2016, there was a 45 percent increase in overall anti-Semitic activity on college campuses compared to the first six months of 2015.

 

No student working hard to earn a degree should ever have to face fear and hate based on who they are or their religious identity. We cannot stand idly by while our students are subject to discrimination, intimidation, or harassment.

That is why the Jewish Federation of North America stands with the Anti-Defamation League, American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Brandeis Center for Human Rights, and many other groups in support of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act.

This legislation directs the U.S. Department of Education to use the leading definition of anti-Semitism when investigating allegations of unlawful harassment, intimidation, or discrimination against Jewish students. This is a definition that is shared by the U.S. Department of State, European Union, and the 31 member governments of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IRHA).

Last year, the Senate unanimously passed the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act. But, the vote unfortunately happened too late in the session for the House of Representatives to take action. Since then, anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses have only intensified. From the intimidating use of Nazi symbolism to protests and other types of intimidation and hate, Jewish students on college campuses are experiencing an unprecedented amount of hostility and discrimination.

This is not a partisan issue. In fact, the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act was championed by Sens. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseySenate blocks bill that opponents say weakens water pollution rules GOP Senate hopefuls race to catch up with Dems Lawmakers rip Trump for not seeking congressional approval for Syria strikes MORE (D-Pa.) and Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottPartisan tensions rise as Mueller bill delayed GOP dismisses report that tax law will add .9 trillion to debt Gowdy on video questions how long Pruitt is ‘going to make it’ MORE (R-S.C.), and they demonstrated that fighting hatred is a bipartisan issue to ensure the legislation received unanimous support from the entire Senate. We thank the bipartisan efforts made thus far and hope Congress will continue working together in a bipartisan fashion to stand against anti-Semitism on college campuses.   

We must ensure that college campuses remain safe learning environments for every student, regardless of their race, religion, ethnic origin, or political beliefs and affiliations. We may come from different vantage points, denominations, walks of life — we may differ from each other in many other ways — but nothing compares to that which unites us. We are all stronger when we work together. College students from every denomination and sect of any religion can unite and combat the rising acts of anti-Semitism on campuses, as discrimination affects all students. Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle can support the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act.

We need to stand together, fight anti-Semitism, and pass legislation imperative to stopping hate and bigotry on college campuses.

Richard Sandler is chair of the Board of Trustees of The Jewish Federations of North America.


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