A panel of Jewish community leaders, academics and activists testified Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee on rising anti-Semitism on college campuses. Lawmakers also heard varying perspectives on the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act” currently under consideration by the committee.
Anti-Semitism on college campuses has drastically increased in recent years. A studyconducted by the anti-Semitism watchdog group AMCHA Initiative showed a 40% increase in campus incidents and a doubling of genocidal expression against Jews last year.
The three-hour-long hearing, presided over by committee chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), included testimony by Jonathan Greenblatt, director of the Anti-Defamation League; Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; Paul Clement, solicitor general under President George W. Bush, and Dr. Pamela Nadell of American University.
Tuesday’s conversation focused mostly on the need to legislate a definition of anti-Semitism. The “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act” would direct the Education Department to rely on the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism. The bill passed the Senate but not the House last year.
Sandra Hagee Parker, chairwoman of the Christians United for Israel Action Fund, was emphatic about the need for such a measure.
During her testimony, Parker referenced a lawsuit charging San Francisco State University with permitting anti-Jewish discrimination. She cited incidents on the campuses of other schools, including George Mason University, where a student wearing a pro-Israel shirt was publicly called “a baby killer.” Parker also addressed an incident at the University of New Mexico, where Jewish students were attacked with rocks thrown at them.
Parker told the Haym Salomon Center that she felt the committee “missed an opportunity” by not having students tell their stories, especially when the committee is hearing from numerous academics who are mostly concerned with academic freedom.
“To get a 360-degree view of this issue, I think it’s low-hanging fruit to call student groups and people who have experienced anti-Semitism themselves as opposed to relying on someone else to tell their story for them,” Parker explained. “Ironically, committee members themselves, parents of college students, shared their own experiences hearing about this at their dinner tables.”
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