Recently, South Carolina passed a law by 86 votes to 4, that brands any criticism of Israel in schools as anti-semitic. The bill requires universities to take the definition into account when reviewing bias or discrimination charges. According to Al-Jazeera, “supporters of the measure used a legislative tactic known as a “rider” to insert it into the state’s 2018-2019 budget.” A ‘Rider’ is an additional provision added to a measure or bill that has little to do with the subject matter of the bill itself. Riders are usually used as a tactic to pass a controversial provision that would not pass on its own, or can even be used to prevent legislation from being passed by tacking on a measure people will certainly not want (aka a ‘poison pill.’)
The State describes the provisions:
The bill’s sponsor, Representative Alan Clemmons stated via Reuters that the passage is “leading the fight against anti-Semitism,” and he sees Jews “at the point of the hate spear in this country” Many supporters of Israel also see the bill as a triumph, but opponents and civil rights activists argue that this will only promote self-censorship and fear in campuses, which is ironically where freedom of speech, controversial ideas, and open debate are the most valuable. Some critics also say that the bill’s passage may encourage anti-semitism rather than prevent it.
Can you believe it?! @AljeezraN finds criticism of South Carolina’s first in the country Law defining #Antisemitism on campus as it is defined by the US State Department and 31 Western nations! Go figure… https://t.co/eqGeoCkNSC
— Alan Clemmons (@RepAlanClemmons) May 14, 2018
It is quite convenient that this law was passed recently in the wake of Israel’s current negative actions. It is quite reminiscent of the Soviets, as one of the first provisions passed in the U.S.S.R were ‘anti-semitism’ laws, that jailed outspoken critics of the state and even put them to death. On anti-semitism and Communism, Marxist.org states:
“In the U.S.S.R. Anti-Semitism is punishable with the utmost severity of the law as a phenomenon deeply hostile to the Soviet system. Under U.S.S.R. law active anti-semites are liable to the death penalty.”
Brad Hutto, a Democratic senator from South Carolina via Al Jazeera apparently downplayed the severity of the law saying ‘it wouldn’t change freedom of speech in public schools and universities.’ I think most people would beg to differ Brad. Besides, shutting down opinions and ideas only makes them spread faster.
In 2015, South Carolina also became the first state to prohibit doing business with any business or person that boycotts Israel when bill H 3583 was signed into law.