(JTA) — South Carolina’s House of Representatives passed a bill endorsing the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism as part of an effort to fight discrimination on college campuses.
The bill, which passed “”) unanimously on Friday, defines anti-Semitism to include the State Department’s definition, which considers demonizing, delegitimizing or applying a double standard to Israel to be forms of anti-Semitism.
Under the South Carolina bill, the new definition would be used in probes of possible anti-Semitism at state colleges and universities.
The pro-Israel groups Stand With Us and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for For Human Rights Under Law, a nonprofit that conducts research on campus anti-Semitism, hailed the measure.
“We applaud the South Carolina legislators for standing up against this growing anti-Jewish bigotry, and in a way that fully protects free speech on campus,” the Brandeis Center’s president, Kenneth Marcus said in a Friday statement.
Stand With Us said South Carolina has “taken a lead addressing the rise of anti-Semitism across the nation.”
The State Department definition has drawn criticism for deeming certain types of criticism of Israel to be anti-Semitic, a theme critics of the South Carolina bill echoed on Friday.
“This language would shut down legitimate debate on South Carolina campuses about policies of the state of Israel and would equate criticism of Israel with anti-Jewish racism,” said Caroline Nagel, a professor at the University of South Carolina, according to The Post and Courier.
Josefin Dolsten is a news fellow at the Forward. She writes about politics and culture, and edits the Sisterhood blog. She received an MA in Jewish Studies and Comparative Religion from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a BA in Government from Cornell University. Contact her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter at @josefindolsten.