'A US Congress bill proposed on Wednesday conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, free-speech advocates say.
The measure aims to provide the Department of Education with a legal definition of anti-Semitism to handle discrimination claims.
It adopts a 2010 report by a special US State Department envoy to combat anti-Semitism.
The document provides a list of examples where anti-Semitism "manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel". They include applying double-standards for Israel, attempting to delegitimise it and comparing Israeli policies to Nazi Germany.
"It's ridiculous; it's unconstitutional; it's against free speech," Ahmad Abuznaid, director of the National Network of Arab American Communities (NAAC), told Middle East Eye.
The bill, dubbed the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2018, was introduced by lawmakers from both US major parties.
US college campuses, where activists attempt to pass student council resolutions to boycott Israel for its mistreatment of Palestinians, have become a major arena for debate over the conflict.
Activists say the bill would censor the exchange of ideas and censor Israel's critics.
The Arab American Institute, a Washington-based think tank, said the bill focuses on suppressing speech critical of Israel, but it fails to address the real problem of anti-Semitism.
"At a time when hate crimes against targeted and vulnerable communities have increased, including against the American Jewish community, it is imperative that our elected officials do not conflate criticisms of policies and political opposition with instances of hate," the group said in a statement.
Abuznaid compared the bill with measures to outlaw the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, "but this is a more vicious attack on the freedom of speech in the US."
Last year, lawmakers proposed a bill that would legally restrict US citizens and companies from boycotting Israel. The measure failed to progress after an outcry from free speech watchdogs, including the American Civil Liberties Union.'
Read more: US bill conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, rights advocates say
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13 June 2018
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