Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

In shadow of bomb threats, national campaign launched to define and outlaw anti-Semitism


Nashville, Tennessee—PJTN has launched a national campaign to define and outlaw anti-Semitism, in light of the recent wave of threats and attacks against American Jewish institutions. The “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act” will fortify the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism into law, including the demonization, delegitimization and double standards applied to Israel, declaring them as a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. This new legal campaign comes after PJTN watchmen nationwide encouraged the passing of state legislation in ten states condemning the anti-Semitic boycott Israel movement. The aim is to have the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act” written into binding law in all fifty states empowering local governments to crush this deplorable pandemic.

Bomb threats forced evacuations at Jewish schools and community centers in 11 states Monday, with the Jewish Community Center Association confirming threats in states ranging from Florida to Michigan. Over the past decade, there has been a resurgence of anti-Semitic attacks and incidents on college, universities and secondary school campuses in Tennessee. At least five universities and two secondary school campuses have had reports of anti-Semitic incidents.

In response, State Senator and chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Dolores Gresham, as well as State House Representative Judd Matheny, decided it was time to adopt the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism to ensure this activity stops. This action will put the administrations of these universities on notice that if they fail to reign in these unlawful acts, they will lose federal funding and risk a lawsuit from private individuals.

In 2015, in an effort to confront this growing problem head-on, PJTN encouraged the Tennessee General Assembly to overwhelmingly pass legislation to expose the anti-Semitic BDS Movement peddled by organizations like Students For Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the Muslim Students Association (MSA) on Tennessee campuses that call for the boycott and dismantling of the Jewish State. With the assistance of thousands of PJTN Watchmen across the country, ten additional states have now passed similar legislation with many more in the pipeline.

However, despite legislation that was passed to condemn these deplorable activities, recent media reports have indicated that vile anti-Semitic hate crimes continue to increase on Tennessee campuses and throughout the country.

Members of organizations like Students for Justice in Palestine and Muslim Students Association on Tennessee campuses have taken to social media to congratulate the recent wave of Palestinian terrorism in Israel, in addition to peddling age-old anti-Semitic conspiracies against Jews. PJTN believes that organizations like SJP and MSA should 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 them and diminishing their right to a safe and secure educational environment.

Last fall, PJTN President, Laurie Cardoza-Moore, called on the State Legislature to conduct hearings into whether these unacceptable activities on Tennessee public university campuses are in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Ms. Cardoza-Moore met with Senator Gresham and Representative Matheny to brief them on this growing threat. Senator Gresham stated, “On the heals of the passage of Tennessee’s landmark resolution condemning the BDS movement and groups like SJP and MSA, we will not allow anti-Semitism to flourish in our educational system. 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 right.” Rep. Judd Matheny has expressed concern that administrators, like Chancellor Cheek of UT - Knoxville, were not taking the threats on their campus seriously and failing to strongly condemn the anti-Semitic activity of these groups.

In 2012, in an effort to confront the growing anti-Semitism in secondary schools, Cardoza-Moore launched a campaign to remove a Pearson Human Geography textbook that contained an anti-Semitic quote from a Williamson County School. The quote legitimized Palestinian homicide bombers blowing themselves up in a Jerusalem restaurant because they were waging a war against Israeli government policies and army actions.

Cardoza-Moore commented: “Is the growing anti-Semitism in Tennessee’s education system due to the indoctrination of our children in our textbooks? The reality is, we cannot afford to wait until anti-Semitic hate and incitement spills over into anti-Semitic violence and bloodshed on American university campuses. No student should be made to feel intimidated or unwelcome on our campuses. The Volunteer State has always led the way in the fight against hate and bigotry, now is the time to uphold state legislation against the anti-Semitic BDS Movement and confront this hatred head-on.”


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