September 20, 2018

South Carolina Becomes First State to Have Formal Definition of Anti-Semitism

South Carolina made history on July 6 when its state government officially adopted a uniform definition of anti-Semitism, the first state in the country to do so.

Gov. Henry McMaster (R) signed a proviso stating South Carolina would adopt the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism, which is as follows:

“Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

The State Department also acknowledged that the delegitimization and demonization of Israel, as well as applying double standards to the Jewish state is also anti-Semitic.

The proviso was signed in order to help combat rising anti-Semitism on college campuses. Prior attempts to pass the law were met with resistance from organizations, such as the Foundation for Individual Rights and Education (FIRE), who were concerned that such law would infringe upon free speech.

However, the proviso merely works as a definition when it comes to targeted “harassment, assault, and vandalism,” StandWithUs argues.

“We have seen a marked increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, according to the ADL. We have not seen a comparable increase in prosecutions for these crimes,” StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein said in a statement. “Law enforcement and administrators are often left powerless to act because of an unclear definition of what anti-Semitism is.”

Rothstein added, “We need to define anti-Semitism in order to defeat it. Thankfully, South Carolina is leading the way.”

Back in May, a bipartisan bill was proposed in Congress to officially establish the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism at the federal level.