House Passes Bill To Codify Definition Of Anti-Semitism

 The GOP-led House passed a bill on Wednesday to codify a definition of anti-Semitism meant to guide enforcement of federal anti-discrimination laws concerning educational programs — at a time when protests in response to the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza have sprung up at universities across the country and spurred safety concerns for Jewish students.

Nearly three-quarters of the chamber, including 187 Republicans and 133 Democrats, voted in favor of the Antisemitism Awareness Act. Twenty-one Republicans and 70 Democrats voted against the measure. Nine members of each party did not vote.

Introduced by Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY), the bill adopts the working definition of anti-Semitism put forward by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) that says anti-Semitism is “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

On X, House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) said the bill codifies an executive order from former President Donald Trump and “is an incredibly important step to ensure that Jewish students and community members at America’s universities feel safe once again on campus and sends a clear message that [House Republicans] will not tolerate antisemitism anywhere.”

Among the bill’s critics was Judiciary ranking member Jerry Nadler (D-NY), who argued in floor remarks that settling on a single definition of anti-Semitism could undermine enforcement of federal civil rights law. He also noted the IHRA has a list of “contemporary examples” of anti-Semitism that may include “protected speech in some contexts, particularly with respect to criticism of the state of Israel.”

Some Republicans raised similar freedom of speech concerns with regard to the list. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), for instance, highlighted the fact that a definition of anti-Semitism does not actually appear in the text of the bill and questioned whether people in the United States should be prosecuted over IHRA’s modern examples list. “This is a poorly conceived unconstitutional bill,” he said on X.

When Lawler introduced the bill in October, shortly after the deadly Hamas attack on Israel, his office said the legislation would require Department of Education to use the IHRA working definition and contemporary examples of anti-Semitism when enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws, adding that employing the IHRA definition “in this context is a key step in calling out antisemitism where it is and ensuring antisemitic hate crimes on college campuses are properly investigated and prosecuted.”

The legislation now heads to the Democrat-controlled Senate, where there has already been a bipartisan push to adopt the IHRA’s working definition of anti-Semitism. If it passes the upper chamber, the bill’s fate will be up to President Joe Biden.

House Republicans announced on Tuesday an effort to combat anti-Semitism at colleges that would entail a variety of committees scrutinizing federal funding and tax benefits that universities receive, as well as cracking down on foreign student visa recipients perpetuating sympathy to terrorist groups at U.S. schools.

House Passes Bill To Codify Definition Of Anti-Semitism House Passes Bill To Codify Definition Of Anti-Semitism Reviewed by Your Destination on May 02, 2024 Rating: 5

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