Senate Passes New Bill Targeting College Students Who Criticize Israel

Students tape their mouths shut in support for Steve Salaita, a professor who lost a job offer from the University of Illinois over dozens of Twitter messages critical of Israel. during a rally at the University of Illinois campus Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Champaign Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Students tape their mouths shut in support for Steve Salaita, a professor who lost a job offer from the University of Illinois over dozens of Twitter messages critical of Israel. during a rally at the University of Illinois campus Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Champaign Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

In a move intended to dramatically broaden Department of Education probes of colleges and universities who tolerate students that criticize Israel, the Senate today unanimously passed the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which was passed with little debate or fanfare.

Sen. Bob Casey (D – PA) and Tim Scott (R – SC) presented the bill as targeting a growing number of “religiously motivated hate crimes,” warning that the Department of Education needed to take “urgent action” to investigate all anti-semitism at school.

The bill intends to do this by instructing the Department of Education to use the State Department’s definition of anti-semitism, which broadly includes criticism of Israel or attempts to “delegitimize” Israel’s status as a Jewish state, or even “focusing on Israel” for human rights investigations or urging peace.

Though it’s unclear how the Department of Education will ultimately handle this new legislation, the bill is aimed at giving legitimacy to Title VI discrimination complaints against universities related to all of this newly-minted anti-semitism under the broader, State Department definition.


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