Washington Post Corrects on South Carolina Antisemitism Law

On May 18, the Washington Post ran a column in its “Perspectives” section by Rabbi Jill Jacobs, in which Rabbi Jacobs wrote that “South Carolina just passed a law deeming any criticism of Israel in the state’s public schools or universities to be anti-Semitic.” Her citation for this proposition was to an article on the Qatari-funded Al-Jazeera website.

Of course, the text of the South Carolina law in question says nothing of the sort. With respect to Israel, the definition enumerates six specific practices which are classified as anti-Semitism:  

(7) using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis;

(8) drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis;

(9) blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions;

(10) applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation;

(11) multilateral organizations focusing on Israel only for peace or human rights investigations; and

(12) denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist.

It then says explicitly that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic” (emphasis added).

Plainly, then, the law does not “deem[] any criticism of Israel in the state’s public schools or universities to be anti-Semitic,” as Rabbi Jacobs asserted. (Notably, it also explicitly states that “Nothing in this proviso may be construed to diminish or infringe upon any right protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”)

Rabbi Jacobs was also incorrect in her assertion that this definition will apply in “the state’s public schools or universities.” In fact it will apply in “South Carolina public colleges and universities” (emphasis added).

While Rabbi Jacobs’s column is an opinion column, that does not justify making incorrect factual assertions. After contact from CAMERA, Washington Post editors promptly corrected her piece and noted the correction at the end. The column now states, “South Carolina just passed a law formally defining anti-Semitism to include ‘applying double standards to Israel’ and requiring public universities to consider the definition when hearing charges of bias.” 

CAMERA commends the Washington Post for the correction.

The full text of the relevant section of the South Carolina law is below:

11.23. (CHE: Prohibition of Discriminatory Practices) (A) In the current fiscal year and from the funds appropriated to the

16 Commission on Higher Education, the commission shall print and distribute to all South Carolina public colleges and universities

17 the definition of anti-Semitism.

18 (B) For purposes of this proviso, the term “definition of anti-Semitism” includes:

19 (1) a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations

20 of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions

21 and religious facilities;

22 (2) calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews;

23 (3) making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews

24 as a collective;

25 (4) accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person

26 or group, the state of Israel, or even for acts committed by non-Jews;

27 (5) accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust;

28 (6) accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interest

29 of their own nations;

30 (7) using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis;

31 (8) drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis;

32 (9) blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions;

33 (10) applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation;

34 (11) multilateral organizations focusing on Israel only for peace or human rights investigations; and

35 (12) denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist, provided, however, that

36 criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.

SECTION 11 – H030 – COMMISSION ON HIGHER EDUCATION PAGE 349 1 (C) South Carolina public colleges and universities shall take into consideration the definition of anti-Semitism for purposes of

2 determining whether the alleged practice was motivated by anti-Semitic intent when reviewing, investigating, or deciding whether

3 there has been a violation of a college or university policy prohibiting discriminatory practices on the basis of religion.

4 (D) Nothing in this proviso may be construed to diminish or infringe upon any right protected under the First Amendment to the

5 Constitution of the United States or Section 2, Article I of the South Carolina Constitution, 1895.