South Carolina State House in Columbia, SC.
(photo credit: REUTERS/JASON MICZEK)
Gov. Henry McMaster called upon his state senate on Wednesday to pass a law that would make South Carolina the first US state to codify a universal definition of antisemitism.
That definition would be taken from a US State Department decision in 2010 and an accompanying fact sheet that singles out demonizing, delegitimizing, and having a double-standard for Israel.
“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews,” the definition says. “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.”
The fact sheet adds blaming Israel for all interreligious or political tensions, applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation, and denying the Jewish people its right to self-determination, and Israel the right to exist. But it also says that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”
The bill passed in the South Carolina House of Representatives in March by a 103-3 vote, with 115 of the 124 state representatives co-sponsoring it, but since then it has been stalled. The governor urged the bill to be passed in the state senate in time for International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.
“Antisemitism has no place in South Carolina, and the passage of this bill would go a long way toward ensuring that our state and its college campuses provide a welcoming environment for those from all walks of life,” McMaster said. “I’m proud that South Carolina continues to lead the fight against antisemitic discrimination, and would ask that the Senate immediately bring this bill to the floor for a final vote, so that we may send the strongest possible message to the world.”
South Carolina was the first US state to pass legislation barring the state from doing business with companies that boycott Israel. The bill in South Carolina was the model for legislation that has since passed in 23 other US states and is now being legislated around the world by countries that have Israel Allies Caucuses in their parliaments.
“Governor McMaster has rightly asked the state senate to pass the bill before Holocaust Memorial Day in honor of over six million souls who were murdered because of their Jewish ethnicity and faith,” said South Carolina state Rep. Alan Clemmons, who drafted both the anti-BDS legislation and the antisemitism bill. “Never again means passing the bill now!”
Clemmons will be honored by the Israel Allies Foundation, Knesset Christian Allies Caucus and the World Jewish Congress at their the Night to Honor Our Christian Allies event on February 15, at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Jerusalem.
“The Israel Allies Foundation is proud to have provided key policy support for the antisemitism bill,” said Joe Sabag, US director for the Israel Allies Foundation. “We look forward to celebrating a groundbreaking public policy victory in South Carolina. As always, we are grateful to Rep. Alan Clemmons – the world’s greatest pro-Israel legislative champion.”