Enough already — not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators march through Sather Gate on the University of California, Berkeley campus. (photo: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press)

The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2018 should be shelved.

By The Times Editorial Board | Los Angeles Times | Jun 8, 2018

Is it necessarily anti-Semitic to harshly criticize the Jewish state or to do so without, in the same breath, criticizing Saudi repression?

Freedom of speech on college campuses is under enough pressure without the federal government adding to the problem by threatening to withdraw funding to punish people for expressing their political opinions. That would be a real possibility if Congress enacted and President Trump signed a bill called the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2018.

The legislation, which has recently been reintroduced in both chambers, purports to target harassment of Jewish students on college campuses, which has occurred in California and elsewhere.

But this proposal would blur the distinction between unacceptable, intimidating expressions of intolerance directed against Jews with criticism of the state of Israel. The latter, even when expressed in intemperate terms, is protected by the 1st Amendment. . . .

Even those who believe such criticisms of Israel are simplistic or unfair should see that they are far removed from the sort of insults or personal attacks that a university or the federal government can police without running afoul of the 1st Amendment. Even strong supporters of the state of Israel should acknowledge that while there are, of course, anti-Semites among Israel’s many critics, not all opposition to Israel is inherently anti-Semitic.

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