ASSEMBLY, No. 4395

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

221st LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED MAY 16, 2024

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  VICTORIA A. FLYNN

District 13 (Monmouth)

Assemblywoman  ROSAURA "ROSY" BAGOLIE

District 27 (Essex and Passaic)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblyman McGuckin

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Creates “New Jersey Anti-Semitism Task Force”.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act creating the “New Jersey Anti-Semitism Task Force” to conduct research and develop recommendations to address the harms caused by anti-Semitism, and supplementing Title 52 of the Revised Statutes. 

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    The Legislature finds and declares that:

     a.     All Americans have a stake in fighting anti-Semitism, as all Americans have a stake in fighting every form of bigotry and hatred against people based on religion, race, or place of birth and origin.

     b.    Anti-Semitism is the centuries-old bigotry and form of racism faced by Jewish people simply because they are Jews.

     c.     Anti-Semitism includes blaming Jewish people when things go wrong, calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jewish people in the name of a radical ideology or extremist view of religion, or making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotyped allegations about Jewish people.

     d.    Jewish people are portrayed in the media and political campaigns with dangerous anti-Semitic myths, such as claims that Jewish people control the United States government or seek global, political, and financial domination.

     e.     Accusing Jewish people of being more loyal to Israel or to the Jewish community than to the United States constitutes anti-Semitism because it suggests that Jewish citizens cannot be patriotic Americans and trusted neighbors, when Jewish people have loyally served and continue to serve the United States, whether in public or community life or military service. 

     f.     Scapegoating and targeting of Jewish people in the United States has persisted for many years, including by the Ku Klux Klan, the America First Committee, and modern neo-Nazis.

     g.    There is clear evidence of increasing incidents and expressions of anti-Semitism throughout the world.

     h.    A May 2014 survey by the Anti-Defamation League, “The ADL Global 100: An Index of Anti-Semitism,” which surveyed people in over 100 countries about their attitudes toward Jewish people, found that a majority of people surveyed overall have either not heard of the Holocaust or do not believe the Holocaust occurred.

     i.     On August 11 and 12, 2017, self-identified neo-Confederates, white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and Ku Klux Klansmen held white supremacist events in Charlottesville, Virginia, where they marched on a synagogue under the Nazi swastika, engaged in racist and anti-Semitic demonstrations, and committed brutal and deadly violence against peaceful Americans.

     j.     In 2017, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported a 37 percent increase in hate crimes against Jewish people or Jewish institutions and found that attacks against Jewish people or Jewish institutions made up 58.1 percent of all religious-based hate crimes.

     k.    A 2018 report from the Anti-Defamation League noted that in 2018 there were 1,879 anti-Semitic incidents against Jewish people and Jewish institutions.

     l.     On October 27, 2018, the perpetrator of the deadliest attack on Jewish people in the history of the United States killed 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and reportedly stated that he “wanted all Jews to die”.

     m.   New Jersey ranked third in the nation in anti-Semitic incidents in 2018, with 200 anti-Semitic incidents reported.

     n.    In New Jersey, Bergen, Middlesex, Ocean, and Union counties had the largest number of reported anti-Semitic incidents in 2018 at 36, 23, 21, and 19, respectively.

     o.    In 2019, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported an increase in hate crimes against Jewish people or Jewish institutions and found that attacks against Jewish people or Jewish institutions made up 60.3 percent of all religious-based hate crimes.

     p.    There is an urgent need to ensure the safety and security of Jewish communities, and synagogues, schools, cemeteries, and other institutions.

     q.    Anti-Semitism is a challenge to the basic principles of tolerance, pluralism, and democracy and the shared values that bind Americans together.

     r.     The First Amendment to the United States Constitution established the United States as a country committed to the principles of tolerance and religious freedom, and the Fourteenth Amendment established equal protection of the laws as the heart of justice in the United States.

     s.     Adherence to these principles is vital to the progress of the American people and the diverse communities and religious groups of the State of New Jersey.

     t.     Prejudice against Jewish people as a national, ethnic, religious, or racial group has no place in New Jersey or in the United States of America.

 

     2.    There is hereby established in the Department of State in the Executive Branch of the State Government a task force to be known as the “New Jersey Anti-Semitism Task Force”.

     a.     The task force shall be permanent and consist of 18 members as follows:

     (1)   The Senate President, who shall serve ex officio, or a designee;

     (2)   The Senate Minority Leader, who shall serve ex officio, or a designee;

     (3)   The Speaker of the General Assembly, who shall serve ex officio, or a designee;

     (4)   The General Assembly Minority Leader, who shall serve ex officio, or a designee.

     (5)   The Chair of the New Jersey Holocaust Education Commission, who shall serve ex officio, or a designee;

     (6)   The Chair of the New Jersey Israel Commission, who shall serve ex officio, or a designee;

     (7)   A representative of the Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc., from the northern region of New Jersey, appointed by the President of the Senate;

     (8)   A representative of the Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc., from the southern region of New Jersey, appointed by the Speaker of the General Assembly;

     (9)   A representative of the State Police, appointed by the Superintendent of the State Police;

     (10) A representative of the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice’s Bias Crimes Unit, appointed by the State Attorney General;

     (11) A representative of the Anti-Defamation League, appointed by the Governor;

     (12) A representative from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, appointed by the Governor;

     (13)  A representative of the Governor's Office, appointed by the Governor;

     (14)  A member of the public, appointed by the Governor;

     (15)  A member of the public, appointed by the Senate President;

     (16)  A member of the public, appointed by the Senate Minority Leader;

     (17)  A member of the public, appointed by the Speaker of the General Assembly; and

     (18)  A member of the public, appointed by the General Assembly Minority Leader. 

     b.    The task force shall appoint a chair and vice-chair to serve a two-year term, with the chair being precluded from serving more than one term consecutively.

     c.     Any vacancy in the membership of the task force shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment was made.

 

     3.    a.   The “New Jersey Anti-Semitism Task Force” shall organize as soon as practicable after the appointment of a majority of its members and shall select a chair and a vice-chair among its members and a secretary who need not be a member of the task force. 

     The presence of ten members of the task force shall constitute a quorum. The task force may conduct business without a quorum, but may only vote on recommendations when a quorum is present. The task force may incur traveling and other miscellaneous expenses as it may deem necessary, within the limits of funds made available to it for its purposes. Members of the task force shall serve without compensation, but may be reimbursed for expenses actually incurred in the performance of their duties.

     b.  The appointed members of the task force shall be appointed to serve for a period of four years and may be terminated only for cause upon notice and opportunity to be heard.  The public members initially appointed by the Attorney General and the Superintendent of the State Police shall serve for a term of one year; the public members initially appointed by a member of the Legislature shall serve for a term of two years; and the public members initially appointed by the Governor shall serve for a term of three years.  Thereafter, all public members shall serve four-year terms.  Each qualified member shall remain in office for their term of appointment and until a successor is appointed and qualified.  Any vacancy in the membership other than by expiration of term shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment but for the remainder of the unexpired term only. 

     c.     The task force shall hold at least four public meetings each year, with at least one meeting held in-person. The other meetings may be conducted virtually via videoconferencing.  At no time shall a meeting be held via conference call. The task force shall invite persons to testify who are leaders in anti-Semitism educational organizations or have training or a verifiable interest in the history of anti-Semitism, New Jersey history and political science, penal history and law enforcement, economics, education, health, human services, law, psychology, religion, or sociology. All issues raised by those testifying at the meetings shall be recorded and included, together with the task force’s responses, if any, in the task force’s report to the Governor and the Legislature.

     d.    The task force shall invite public comment, including testimony at its meetings, on the issues the task force is required to address as part of its responsibilities, in a manner that encourages public participation.

     e.     The Department of State shall publicize the task force’s mission and procedures on the department’s website.

     f.     The task force shall be entitled to avail itself of the assistance and services of the staff of the Department of State, and of the employees of any other State department, board, bureau, commission, or agency, as it may require and as may be available to it for its purposes.

     g.    The task force may avail itself of the assistance of members of the public for submissions of any information or research with regard to the duties of the task force set forth by section four of this act.

 

     4.    The New Jersey Anti-Semitism Task Force shall conduct research, develop recommendations to address the harms caused by anti-Semitism, and annually issue a report to the Governor and Legislature regarding the state of anti-Semitism in New Jersey.

     a.     In performing this duty, the task force shall:

     (1)   Identify, compile, and synthesize the relevant corpus of evidentiary documentation relative to the history and current status of anti-Semitism at college campuses and state universities and in the world, with a focus on New Jersey-specific information. The task force’s documentation and examination shall include, but not be limited to, facts related to:

     (a)   The definition and ideology of anti-Semitism;

     (b)   Misconceptions and stereotyping relative to the Jewish people; and

     (c) Discrimination and systemic failings relative to the fair treatment of the Jewish people. 

     (2)   Recommend appropriate remedies in consideration of the task force’s findings on the matters described in this section.

     (3)   Recommend appropriate ways to educate the New Jersey public of the task force’s findings. 

     b.    In making recommendations, the task force shall address among other issues:

     (1)   how the recommendations comport with national and international standards of remedy for wrongs and injuries, as well as relevant national and international protocols, laws, and findings;

     (2)   how New Jersey laws and policies that continue to disproportionately and negatively affect the Jewish people as a group can be eliminated; and

     (3)   how the injuries resulting from matters described in this section can be reversed and provide appropriate policies, programs, projects, and recommendations for the purpose of reversing the injuries.

 

     5.    The New Jersey Anti-Semitism Task Force shall issue a report each year to the Governor and the Legislature reflecting its research findings, recommendations to address the harms caused by anti-Semitism, and detailing the state of anti-Semitism in New Jersey. The task force shall submit its reports to the Legislature pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1). The task force shall provide its first annual report no later than 12 months following its initial meeting.

 

     6.    This act shall take effect immediately. 

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill establishes the New Jersey Anti-Semitism Task Force to conduct research, develop recommendations to address the harms caused by anti-Semitism, and annually issue a report to the Governor and Legislature regarding the state of anti-Semitism in New Jersey.

     The task force will be permanent and consist of 18 persons, at least five of whom will be members of the public. 

     The bill requires the task force to conduct research, develop recommendations to address the harms caused by anti-Semitism, and annually issue a report to the Governor and Legislature regarding the state of anti-Semitism in New Jersey. In performing this duty, the task force will:

     (1)   Identify, compile, and synthesize the relevant corpus of evidentiary documentation relative to the history and current status of anti-Semitism at college campuses and state universities and the world, with a focus on New Jersey-specific information.  The task force’s documentation and examination will include, but not be limited to, facts related to:

     (a)   The definition and ideology of anti-Semitism;

     (b)   Misconceptions and stereotyping relative to the Jewish people; and

     (c) Discrimination and systemic failings relative to the fair treatment of the Jewish people;

     (2)   Recommend appropriate ways to educate the New Jersey public of the task force’s findings; and

     (3)   Recommend appropriate remedies in consideration of the task force’s findings. 

     The task force will hold at least four public meetings each year, with at least one of those meetings being held in-person. The other meetings may be conducted virtually, via videoconferencing.  Meetings via conference call will not be permitted.

     The task force will issue a report each year to the Governor and the Legislature and will provide its first annual report no later than 12 months following its initial meeting.