Despite widespread intimidation and harassment of Jewish students on North Carolina's college campuses, senate leader Phil Berger refuses to act.
Senators Bobby Hanig (Currituck, Gates, Halifax) and Tim Moffitt (Henderson, Polk, Rutherford) sponsored legislation to stop campus harassment and discrimination of Jewish students. The Defining Anti-Semitism in North Carolina bill SB739 passed its first reading in the Senate on April 10th, but never received a full vote.
The bill's intent is to define antisemitism using the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA) definition in North Carolina:
“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.
The bill would not apply to criticisms of Israel, nor would it affect advocating for Gaza.
DEFINE ANTISEMITISM SO PUBLIC OFFICIALS CAN COMBAT IT
Religion, culture, national origin, and ethnicity all contribute to Jewish identity. An official unfamiliar with antisemitism may not recognize an incident for what it is without a definition.
"The proposed legislation will be invaluable tool to help the public and law enforcement identify acts of anti-Jewish bias in K-12 schools, on university campuses, and beyond," says Sloan Rachmuth, President of Education First Alliance.
"Antisemites hide behind ambiguity as they committ hateful acts while claiming it wasn't antisemitism because it wasn't based on a personal trait."
Antisemitism disguised as animus toward Israel is particularly sinister. Asserting that Jews alone, among all peoples of the world, do not have the right to self-determination.
Antisemitism occurs when Jews are verbally harassed or physically attacked in response to the actions of the State of Israel.
Anti-Israel demonstrations on campuses like UNC Chapel Hill have turned antisemitic and even violent, endangering Jewish lives and property. Police and prosecutors have been slow to investigate obvious hate crimes.
WHAT THE BILL DOES
The Defining Anti-Semitism in North Carolina legislation will create a sub-section within the state's criminal statutes that allows prosecutors and judges to consider anti-Jewish bias in a defendant's case. Its application in criminal law may enhance sentencing.
The bill would allow counties and the state to sue individuals and groups who discriminate against or harass Jewish people. Campus groups like Students for Justice in Palestine and others could be held liable for conducting repeated intimidation campaigns aimed at Jewish students and their supporters.
SENATOR BERGER DECLINED TO ACT
North Carolina Jewish community leaders met with Senate leader Phil Berger about the need for legislation earlier this year. They cited campus hostility against Jewish students and escalating threats to synagogues as the reason to define antisemitism in the state.
Nevertheless, Senator Berger declined to bring the bill up for a vote, even after the pro-Hamas rally on UNC's campus. Had the Speaker brought the bill to the floor, it would have likely passed.
According to the Combat Antisemitism Movement, 30 states have passed measures that apply the IHRA definition of antisemitism to discrimination and criminal acts.
Currently, the bill is in the rules committee and won't be able to be voted on until May 2024.