South Carolina State House
South Carolina State House iStock

Language defining anti-Semitism, including a controversial passage that defines as anti-Semitic certain anti-Israel expressions, was inserted into a bill likely to be approved by South Carolina’s legislature, JTA reported on Friday.

The bill, if approved, would make South Carolina the first state to legislate such a definition.

The language is not permanent, according to the report. It was included in an $8 billion budget bill the Senate passed late Thursday, which means that it stands only until the next budget is passed next year.

The language is seen as likely to survive the reconciliation of the bill by Senate and House committees. Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican who has championed the language, is expected to sign the budget bill.

Efforts earlier this year to pass a permanent version of the law were frustrated when concerns about free streets impingement hindered its advance in the Senate.

The bill requires universities to take the definition into account when reviewing charges of discrimination or bias.

The bill uses as its template is the State Department definition of anti-Semitism, which includes calls for violence against Jews, advancing conspiracy theories about Jewish control and Holocaust denial. More controversially, it also includes “applying double standards” to Israel “by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

Critics of the effort to advance that language in Congress and in a number of other state legislatures say that it is too broad and could encompass conventional criticism of Israel. The State Department language was never intended as an enforcement tool and was drafted as a means of advising diplomats how to assess whether anti-Semitism is prevalent in countries where they serve.

Rep. Alan Clemmons, a Republican state House member who has led the effort to pass the bill and who is a strong supporter of Israel, has argued that reports of the intensification of anti-Semitism on campuses in recent years required legislative means to combat it.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released a report in February which found that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States spiked in 2017.

There were 1,986 acts of anti-Semitism in the U.S. last year, according to the ADL audit. That is more than double the total from 2015, which was 942. It’s also a 57 percent increase over the 2016 total of 1,267. The audit said that the rise is due in part to an increase in people reporting incidents of anti-Semitism.

Many incidents of anti-Semitism have been recorded on campuses in the United States.

Last October, anti-Semitic fliers with swastika-like symbols were discovered on the campus of Cornell University in upstate New York.

In September, the FBI was called in to investigate threats against minority students at California State University, Long Beach, including Latino and Jewish students.

Last year, fliers with anti-Semitic, racist and anti-immigrant messages were posted on the campus of Princeton University.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)