House Passes Antisemitism Bill Amid Uproar On Campuses

House Passes Antisemitism Bill Amid Uproar On Campuses


The House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill on Wednesday aimed at targeting antisemitism on college campuses, as tensions across dozens of campuses boil over amid a spree of student-led pro-Palestinian protests and encampments.

Proponents of the bill believe it will combat antisemitism at colleges, where pro-Palestinian … [+] protests have been met with heavy pushback from lawmakers and school donors.

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Key Facts

The majority of members present from both parties approved the Antisemitism Awareness Act on Wednesday, including 187 Republicans and 133 Democrats, with 21 Republicans and 70 Democrats opposed.

The bill, which still needs Senate approval, would require the Department of Education to adopt antisemitism definitions used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, though critics claim it would impose an overly broad set of restrictions.

The Alliance, an intergovernmental organization, defines antisemitism as a “certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews” and include the calling for harm or death to Jewish people “in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view on religion,” as well as “mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews.”

The organization’s definition also extends to Holocaust denialism and accusations of Jewish people being “more loyal to Israel…than to the interests of their own nations.”

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Chief Critics

Hard-right Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who voted against the bill, called it “ridiculous” ahead of the vote Wednesday, arguing it was “written without regard for the Constitution, common sense, or even the common understanding of the meaning of words.” In his criticism of the bill, Gaetz referenced part of the definition on the use of symbols “associated with classic antisemitism,” including “claims of Jews killing Jesus.” Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., also slammed the bill, saying it “has a problem beyond violating the 1st [Amendment,]

” adding it does not list the definition of antisemitism in its language.


The bill’s passage comes amid heightened tensions on college campuses as groups of students lead pro-Palestinian protests critical of Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip, where the Hamas-led Gaza Health Ministry estimates over 34,000 people have been killed since the war broke out in October (Israel estimates Hamas killed 1,200 people in its Oct. 7 attack on Israel). While student-led protests became a fixture at colleges nationwide in the first weeks of the war, those protests heated up last month, with encampments and protests spanning from Columbia, New York University and Emerson College to the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Southern California. Those protests, like the ones last fall, sparked backlash from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and from university donors over allegations of surging antisemitism. At Columbia—widely considered the national focal point of the protests—school president Nemat Shafik also faces mounting calls to resign, just months after the presidents of Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania stepped down over criticism of their responses to questions during a congressional hearing on antisemitism. In response to recent protests, Columbia officials Tuesday threatened to expel students occupying Hamilton Hall, while the New York City Police Department on Tuesday night cleared a student encampment, an act that former President Donald Trump lauded as a “beautiful thing to watch.”

Further Reading

ForbesColumbia Threatens To Expel Students Occupying Hamilton HallBy Zachary FolkForbesTrump Says NYPD Clearing Columbia Encampment Was ‘A Beautiful Thing To Watch’By Molly Bohannon

ForbesColumbia Protesters Could Face Felony Burglary Charges: Here Are All The Possible PunishmentsBy Zachary Folk

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