By Kristin French, Special to Statehouse Report | S.C. Rep. Alan Clemmons (R-Horry) recently introduced a bill that intends to limit speech critical of Israel in S.C. institutions of higher education. This bill, H. 3643, is patterned after S. 10, a bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott in the U.S. Senate during the 2015-16 session of Congress.
Both bills use definitions of anti-Semitism proposed by the U.S. State Department in 2010 to guide State Department employees. The definition may be an appropriate recommendation for diplomats, but it is not appropriate for professors and students debating or discussing policies and history of Israel. The attempt to investigate and punish criticism of Israel or any other government is quite chilling, and is arguably a violation of the protections of political speech in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.