The South Carolina House on Thursday overwhelmingly approved legislation they touted as an “anti-Semitism” bill. However, the legislation is being condemned by some civil rights groups as an indirect way to quell criticism of Israel.
According to The State newspaper, lead sponsor State Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Myrtle Beach, cited increasing threats being made against Jewish community centers across the country. So far, dozens, including one in Columbia, have been the victims of bomb threats the past few months.
The bill approved 103-3 would require South Carolina use a 2010 U.S. State Department definition of anti-Semitism when probing suspected civil rights violations.
Free speech advocates and activist groups state that the federally prescribed definition includes examples of anti-Semitism that are relative to Israel. The bill’s supporters said the State Department definition is to be used as a tool to help investigators define whether violations of rules such as assaults are anti-Semitic in nature.
The House bill had overwhelming bipartisan support, with 115 co-sponsors.
Only six House members had not signed on or had removed their names from the bill by Thursday. The legislation now goes to the Senate.