“Hateful rhetoric does nothing but pave the way to oppression and violence. Simply condemning anti-Semitic rhetoric is no longer enough — we must stand together and actively work to stop it.”
By Rep. Doug Collins
The statistics are clear: Anti-Semitism is on the rise here in the United States and all across the world. According to recent data [from the ADL], our country witnessed a 105 percent increase in reported physical assaults on the Jewish community in 2018. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) – an attack on Israel’s very right to exist – is continuing to gain traction, and anti-Semitic statements from certain members of Congress are adding fuel to the fire.
Too often, we’ve seen this form of hate and other notions of racial, ethnic or cultural superiority end in tragic violence. Our nation felt the full weight of this evil nearly one year ago at the Tree of Life synagogue as we witnessed the deadliest attack against the Jewish community in U.S. history. We mourn the loss of the 11 Americans who were tragically murdered, and we ask ourselves a big question: What can we, as a nation, do to eradicate such hate?
Anti-Semitic violence is a stain on our world’s history, having extinguished countless lives — yet, today, more and more members of Congress are voicing anti-Semitic rhetoric. It’s also hard to comprehend why my Democrat colleagues are quick to schedule hearings and votes on other forms of hateful rhetoric but refuse to condemn members of their own caucus who are proudly fueling anti-Semitic tropes every chance they get.
Anti-Semitism isn’t just rising on a national and global scale; it has also become all too common on college campuses. Just last month, anti-Semitic graffiti was spray-painted across a University of Tennessee landmark, blaming Jews for the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. In April, students at Emory University posted fake eviction notices on the doors of student dorms and apartments as part of an anti-Israel student protest. These horrific actions should not only be condemned, but colleges and universities must take steps to prevent hatred from building a home on their campuses.
Unfortunately, an absence of clear guidance on anti-Semitism has made it difficult, if not impossible in some cases, to directly address threats, harassment and intimidation infringing on the civil rights of Jewish students. In July, I introduced the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act to help combat anti-Semitism on college campuses. My legislation would provide the Department of Education with an additional resource to investigate potentially anti-Semitic behavior on college campuses by clarifying the definition of “anti-Semitism” in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is a critical tool to protect the civil rights of students and ensure they receive equal educational opportunities.
Colleges and universities that receive federal financial assistance have an obligation to protect all students from discrimination on the basis of race, gender or national origin under Title VI. This includes the responsibility to ensure Jewish students have equal educational opportunities. The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act does not change the rights or obligations under existing anti-discrimination law; it simply ensures the protection of students’ and schools’ First Amendment rights along with the right to equal educational opportunities.
This legislation has bipartisan support in the Senate thanks to Senators Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Bob Casey (D-P.A.), and many of my House colleagues — Democrat and Republican — supported the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act last Congress. Sadly, my colleagues across the aisle refuse to support the exact same bill this Congress simply because the House Democratic Caucus can’t seem to agree on condemning the rank anti-Semitism within their own party.
Hateful rhetoric does nothing but pave the way to oppression and violence. Simply condemning anti-Semitic rhetoric is no longer enough — we must stand together and actively work to stop it.
I hope my Democrat colleagues will give Congress the opportunity to send a clear, bipartisan message: Anti-Semitism has no place in our hearts, and it certainly has no place on college campuses.
Rep. Doug Collins represents Georgia’s 9th Congressional District. He is the ranking member of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary.