South Carolina State House in Columbia, SC.
(photo credit: REUTERS/JASON MICZEK)
International Holocaust Remembrance Day came and went Saturday without South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster passing a State Senate bill that would make his state the first to codify a universal definition of antisemitism.
McMaster had set that day as a deadline to pass the controversial legislation, which has been stalled since the bill passed in the South Carolina House of Representatives in March by a 103-3 vote. The Israel Allies Foundation (IAF), which initiated the legislation together with South Carolina Rep. Alan Clemmons, blamed the delay on one state senator.
The local chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine posted on its Twitter account its communication with that state senator, Democrat Brad Hutto.
“One bad apple has put a procedural hold on the bill,” IAF US national director Joseph Sabag said. “It’s an unfortunate situation. Once it reaches the floor, everyone will vote for it except for him. I don’t think it’s an artificial deadline. The governor saw it as symbolic for Holocaust Remembrance Day.”
The definition for antisemitism 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.”
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.