According to its author, discussing the military occupation of the West Bank, a reality recognized even by israel’s Supreme Court, would be considered anti-Semitic under the new law.
In 2015, South Carolina became the first of at least 22 states to prohibit state agencies or institutions from contracting with any vendor participating in a boycott of Israel.
The state of South Carolina will become the first state in the nation to legislate a definition of anti-Semitism that considers certain criticisms of the Israeli government to be hate speech. The language, which was inserted into the state’s recently passed $8 billion budget, offers a much more vague definition of anti-Semitism that some suggest specifically targets the presence of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, movement on state college campuses. The law requires that all state institutions, including state universities, apply the revised definition when deciding whether an act violates anti-discrimination policies.
Once it is reconciled with an appropriations bill previously passed by the state House, the measure will become law and take effect this July. However, the law will last only until the next budget is passed, meaning that the new legal definition of anti-Semitism must be renewed on a yearly basis unless new legislation making the language permanent is passed in the future.
The new definition uses the State Department’s current definition of anti-Semitism as its template — defining speech that “demonizes” or applies “double standards” to Israel “by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” as anti-Semitic.
However, the State Department’s definition was never intended to be used as an enforcement tool, and concern has subsequently been raised that South Carolina colleges may now move to criminalize conventional and factual criticism of Israel under the new, vague definition of anti-Semitism.