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Poll: Americans Oppose the ‘Anti-Semitism Awareness Act’

IRmep Survey Question: Civil liberties groups oppose an Israel lobby bill barring federal funds to universities that permit protest focused solely on Israel, by defining it as anti-Semitism. IMAGE: via AntiWar.com

Americans wouldn’t cut funding to universities critical of Israel

By Grant Smith | 29 November 2017

ANTIWAR — The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on November 7 to discuss the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act.” Proponents of ASAA claim it is a law that would protect Jewish students from anti-Semitic harassment, which they claim is a major problem on campus. Opponents argue the bill would undermine free speech rights, and is a thinly-disguised gag order designed to quash criticism of Israel in academia. The penalties that would be levied on institutes of higher learning failing to crack down would include a cutoff of federal funding to those found in violation of newly expanded Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 anti-discrimination mandates. Lawsuits accusing colleges and universities of discrimination, such as one recently dismissed against San Francisco State University, would likely succeed under such an expanded definition of anti-Semitism.

For Israel lobby activists giving testimony – including AIPAC, the American Jewish Committee, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Anti-Defamation League – the objective of the hearing was to get the bill out of committee and onto the floor for a vote. There, members of Congress beholden to Israel lobby campaign contributors and pressure campaigns orchestrated from their districts would likely vote to pass it, as the Senate did on December 1, 2016. Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center was the bill’s bluntest “lobby-power” advocate. “You have the wall-to-wall leadership of the American Jewish community here … we need to move the ball forward … we hope you’ll send this to the floor of the house for further deliberation.”

No Palestine solidarity group leaders – those most often accused of organizing campus actions that cross the line into anti-Semitism – were allowed to testify before the Judiciary Committee. But not all expert testimony favored applying a definition of anti-Semitism proposed by the American Jewish Committee and adopted by the U.S. State Department – to American campuses. […]

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