A Florida congressman wants the U.S. Department of Education to investigate anti-Semitism in American schools, including higher education institutes.
On Friday, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., who leads Democrats on the U.S. House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee and co-chairs the Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism, teamed up with U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., in unveiling the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act.” The proposal would “help the Department of Education’s investigations into incidents of anti-Semitism in schools and universities.”
The legislation mirrors a bill passed by the Senate from U.S. Sens. Tim Scott, R-SC, and Bob Casey, D-Penn., which passed without opposition on Friday.
“Anti-Semitism is surging across the country, and Jewish students are facing the brunt of it,” Deutch said as he brought out his bill on Friday. “They shouldn’t have to hide their identity or repress their views for fear of verbal or physical attack. This important bill will help the Department of Education address anti-Semitism on our college campuses by arming them with a clear definition of anti-Semitism.”
This isn’t the first time Deutch has tackled the topic. Back in April, Deutch and his fellow co-chairs of the Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism, including Roskam and U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., sent a letter to the U.S. Education Department demanding information on their efforts to crack down on anti-Semitism on college campuses across the nation.
Deutch and the other co-chairs pointed to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel as one of the main reasons why anti-Semitism is on the rise in colleges and universities.
“An alarming rise of anti-Israel programs on American college campuses contribute to increasing harassment, intimidation, and discrimination against Jewish students,” the co-chairs wrote the Education Department back in April. “While we believe that students’ freedoms of speech and assembly should be respected, there are increasing reports that activity advertised as anti-Israel or anti-Zionist is devolving into displays of subtle, but sometimes outright anti-Semitism. Attacks on students because of their actual or perceived religion, ancestry, or ethnicity are unacceptable. We believe strongly that no student should ever face discrimination and that school activities must be structured in a respectful manner to ensure academic integrity and a nondiscriminatory environment throughout the entire campus. For these reasons, we ask the Department of Education to assess its ability to monitor and respond to anti-Semitic incidents and to take additional steps to combat intimidation and harassment against minority students on college campuses.”