The Tennessee General Assembly Is Addressing the Concern for Growing Violence With the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act

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Proclaiming Justice to The Nations (PJTN) founder Laurie Cardoza-Moore, an pro-Israel Christian advocacy organization, is calling national media attention this week to the support of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act being championed in the current Tennessee legislative session by Tennessee State Senator and Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Dolores Gresham, and State House Chairman of Education Committee, Mark White.

With bipartisan support, the bill comes in the wake of an increase in anti-Semitic violence occurring nationally on higher education and K-12 campuses, as well in the open community environments of US cities in general and in Tennessee specifically.

The legislation being introduced to the House, HB0600 and Senate SB1250 in Tennessee is in keeping with President Trump’s recent Executive Order and will adopt the U.S. State Department’s definition of antisemitism. It will result in punitive action for anti-Semitic attacks and incidents within the state of Tennessee, including those committed on college and university campuses. The failure to rein in these unlawful acts may result in private lawsuits as well as the loss of federal funding.

By enacting the Anti Semitism Awareness Act, the Tennessee Department of Education can apply the U.S. State Department’s definition of antisemitism to determine if a federal investigation is warranted due to violations of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Noted Cardoza-Moore: “We must not tolerate this acrimony against our Jewish communities in the state of Tennessee. We cannot afford the loss of our children and our future generation of American leadership to the evils of hatred.”

In discussing the legislation being proposed, the bill’s sponsor, Senator Dolores Gresham has stated, “In keeping with the tradition of Tennessee’s unequivocal support of our friend and ally, Israel, Tennessee became the first state in the nation to pass legislation condemning the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement. Whether it is our secondary schools, or schools of higher learning, the Constitutional rights of all students will be protected in providing a safe environment for our children to excel. No individual will be denied that.”

House Education Chairman, Rep. Mark White has also expressed concern stating that “administrators throughout Tennessee must take these threats seriously by strongly condemning the anti-Semitic activity on their campuses. Our decision to address this issue in the Tennessee General Assembly is to send a message throughout our education system that incidents will not be tolerated, and we will utilize our ability as lawmakers to ensure our voice is heard clearly on this issue.”

In a 2018 report released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), violence against Jews showed an increase of 86 percent, the largest single annual increase registered since the ADL began research tracking polls on the focus of antisemitism. A sharp increase of harassment and vandalism incidents against Jews were recorded in Tennessee with a particularly alarming rise noted on the state’s university campuses.

In recent memory, news making anti-Semitic incidents were reported on the campuses of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, UT Knoxville, a prominent Jewish synagogue in Chattanooga, and on an open trail park in Johnson City. The Gordon Jewish Center in Nashville was listed as one of the 163 Jewish institutions subjected to bomb threats tied to antisemitism in the U.S. last year.

“Members of organizations such as the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Muslim Students Association (MSA) on Tennessee campuses have literally deluged social media in peddling the age-old anti-Semitic conspiracies against Jews,” said Cardoza-Moore. “PJTN is continuing to call for organizations like SJP and MSA to be closely monitored by authorities. These groups have often used violent attacks and intimidation tactics to push Jewish and Christian-Zionists into submission, thus silencing suppressing their right of free speech and diminishing their right to a safe and secure educational environment.”

 

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