What is the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act Really All About?

What is the purpose of this legislation?  

The legislation is designed to help the Department of Education and Department of Justice effectively determine whether an investigation of an incident of anti-Semitism is warranted under their statutory anti-discrimination enforcement authority.

  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is one of the most important federal education anti-discrimination statutes.  But it only prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin.  Both the Department of Justice and the Department of Education have properly concluded that Title VI also prohibits discrimination against Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and members of other religious groups when the discrimination is based on the group’s actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics – or when the discrimination is based on actual or perceived citizenship or residence in a country whose residents share a dominant religion or a distinct religious identity.
  • In October 2010, the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) sent a very welcome Dear Colleague letter to schools across the country announcing they would be enforcing their inclusive reading of Title VI authority – and emphasized new responsibilities for schools under this interpretation.  However, OCR did not provide guidance on what constitutes anti-Semitism.  This bill provides a reference point that can be useful in these cases, including instances when targeted, discriminatory anti-Semitic conduct may be couched as anti-Israel or anti-Zionist.

Read More: ADL