Anti-Semitism bill passes House of Representatives amid campus unrest

 May 3, 2024

Anti-Semitism legislation was enacted by the House on May 1, while pro-Palestinian demonstrations intensified on college campuses nationwide.

With a 320–91 majority, the lower chamber approved the legislation by a largely bipartisan margin, as The Epoch Times reported.

This included 21 Republicans and 70 Democrats who voiced opposition to the legislation, with a significant number of them expressing apprehensions regarding the bill's potential suppression of free speech.

Extension of Previous Legislation

In the enforcement of federal anti-discrimination laws, the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which is currently awaiting Senate consideration, would extend the definition of antisemitism to that established by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), the bill's sponsor, expressed his optimism that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y. ) would ensure that the bill breezes through the Senate.

Citing the April 29 seizure of a building by protestors at Columbia University, Mr. Lawler added that school administrators "have failed to do their jobs" in contributing to the recent wave of anti-Semitism on college campuses.

Violent Protests

On April 30th evening, the New York Police Department obtained authorization from the university to vacate the premises of the protesters.

“This is establishing, at its core, that if you are engaged in rhetoric and behavior that is anti-Semitic, there’s going to be consequences,” Mr. Lawler told The Epoch Times.

The measure was introduced concurrently with House Speaker Mike Johnson's (R-La.) announcement of House anti-anti-Semitism crackdown efforts on college and university campuses.

An assortment of committees will undertake investigations and discussions for this purpose, coping with how to implement the new legislation.

How Anti-Semitism is classified

Regardless of their stance on the legislation, every single lawmaker who spoke with the journalists from The Epoch Times on April 30 strongly denounced anti-Semitism, according to the publication's report.

The bill's definition is at the heart of the dispute surrounding it; some senators felt it was overly broad and open to abuse.

Though the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) asserts that "criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic," many expressed worry that the new regulation would label criticism of the Israeli state or its government as anti-Semitic. This prompted somewhat of a split among lawmakers, even those traditionally considered conservative.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) said: “My concern is that it violates First Amendment speech. I mean, I think we have to have space for the criticism of government, but we can absolutely condemn the vile threats and toxic rhetoric against Jewish or Muslim students.”

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