House passes bill to expand definition of antisemitism

 May 2, 2024

The House passed a Republican-backed bill that expands the definition of antisemitism in response to the recent unrest that has swept college campuses.

The Antisemitism Awareness Act passed 320-91. The bill's opponents, including members of the extreme left "Squad" and right-wing Republicans, said the bill would undermine free speech.

21 Republicans and 70 Democrats voted against the bill, which would require the Department of Education to adopt an expanded definition of antisemitism when enforcing civil rights law.

House passes antisemitism bill

Jerry Nadler (Ny.), a prominent Jewish Democrat, voted against the bill. He said it defines antisemitism too broadly and would include protected speech criticizing the state of Israel.

“Speech that is critical of Israel alone does not constitute unlawful discrimination,” Nadler said. "By encompassing purely political speech about Israel into Title VI’s ambit, the bill sweeps too broadly.”

The bill passed against the backdrop of chaos at American universities, where pro-Palestine activists have staged occupation protests against Israel's war with Hamas.

The unrest has sparked calls for action from many Republicans who argue the protests have made campuses unsafe for Jews. Some have suggested pulling federal funding from schools that fail to address the issue.

"When people engage in harassment or bullying of Jewish individuals where they justify the killing of Jews or use blood libel or hold Jews collectively responsible for the actions of the Israeli government — that is antisemitic," Mike Lawler (R-Ny.), the bill's main sponsor, told Fox News Digital.

Bill has left, right detractors

Some Republicans, like Matt Gaetz (Fl.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), said the antisemitism bill would classify the Bible as hate speech. They cited passages from Scripture that have been interpreted by some to blame Jews for killing Jesus.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance - which supplied the definition that the House adopted in its bill - describes the notion of Jewish deicide as "classic anti-Semitism."

The organization also defines antisemitism as including comparisons between Israel and the Nazi regime. Progressives have often characterized Israel as an ultra-nationalist state perpetrating a "genocide" in Gaza.

President Biden said "order must prevail" in his first direct comments on the protests Thursday.

"Dissent is essential for democracy,” Biden said at the White House. “But dissent must never lead to disorder.”

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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