New York State Senate Republicans urge Democratic action on cluster of antisemitism bills

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post on .

New York State Senate Republicans urge Democratic colleagues to address antisemitism legislation before legislative session ends, proposing measures to combat hate on college campuses.

Standing outside the police-barricaded gates of Columbia University on Friday afternoon, members of the New York State Senate Republican Conference Antisemitism Working Group held a news conference urging their Democratic colleagues to move forward with a legislative package the Republicans unveiled over a month ago that addresses and combats antisemitism. 

The Republican's plea for the Senate's Democratic majority leaders to hold hearings to discuss the legislative items and bring the bills to the floor comes at a critical moment as there are just 18 working days left of the legislative session. 

Several actions in the legislation include placing a definition of antisemitism within the state human rights law, enacting the "New York State Antisemitism Vandalism Act;" and creating the "Dismantling Student Antisemitism Act" which would implement Antisemitism awareness and Prevention sensitivity training for colleges with consequence of loss of funding.  

"This antisemitism taskforce was set up well before the horrific events of October 7. But those events of October 7 only crystallized the need not only for the task force but the analysis," Senator Jack Martins, who chairs the working group, told reporters. 

The events of the past weeks and months at Columbia and universities across the country reinforced the need for accountability and for solutions to prevent these things from happening in the future, Martins said. 

"In the event the majority chooses to ignore this, we will continue to move forward," Martins said. 

Funding accountability

According to Senator Steve Rhodes, any institution that permits antisemitic activities to take place on their campuses should not receive funding from New York State.


"We will not allow our tax dollars to be used as a platform for intolerance, hatred and pro-terrorist activities that take place," Rhodes said. 

Rhodes said accountability for dangerous conduct has been sorely lacking in New York and "that stops now."

"We encourage our Democratic colleagues to join us to protect the citizens of the state of New York, to protect the integrity of our college institutions and universities here in the state," Rhodes said. "And, most importantly, live up to our ideals of being a state that does not permit hate, intolerance, and stands up for justice and the rights of all New Yorkers to participate in our society."

The bills would get bipartisan support and pass if they're looked at "thoughtfully, independently and without any prejudice," according to Senator Bill Weber. 

Weber introduced a bill that would withhold tuition assistance for students involved in antisemitic activities. 

"You've got to hit them in the pocket because when you hit them in the pocket they'll listen and they'll wake up," Weber told The Jerusalem Post. "And they need to wake up. Fast."

Weber called the working group's report "chock full of common sense solutions."

The working group has yet to hear a response from the majority leaders, which Weber attributes to fear of the progressive wing of the Democratic party.