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House Approves Lawler Bill To Establish Antisemitism Definition, Intensifying Enforcement On College Campuses

Today on the first day of Jewish American Heritage Month, the House passed the Antisemitism Awareness Act by a margin of 320 – 91. This legislation will require the Department of Education to use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism and its contemporary examples when enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws. Usage of 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.

In the wake of anti-Israel demonstrations at Columbia University and other colleges and universities across the nation, the safety of Jewish students has become a major concern. Amid escalating protests, a Jewish student at Yale was stabbed in the eye with a Palestinian flag and a Jewish UCLA student was blocked by protestors from entering campus. Last October, Jewish students at The Cooper Union were locked inside the college library after being harassed by a group of around 20 protestors.

“What is happening at Columbia, at Yale, at UCLA, and so many other schools, is reprehensible and alarming,” said Congressman Lawler (NY-17). “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. It’s unfortunate that needs to be clarified, but that’s why this bill is necessary.”

“By requiring the Department of Education to adopt the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism and its contemporary examples, the Antisemitism Awareness Act gives teeth to federal anti-discrimination laws to go after those who attack their Jewish peers,” Congressman Lawler (NY-17) concluded. “Politics should never get in the way of the safety of students. The strong bipartisan support for and passage of this legislation will ensure that it won’t.”

“We cannot stand idly by as protesters call for the death of Jews on college campuses and across the country,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “When I spoke at Columbia last week, I told administrators that we need deeds, not words to protect Jewish students. This bill is a critical step to take the action we so desperately need to stand against hate.”

“Today, House Republicans and Speaker Johnson made it clear: violently antisemitic rhetoric has no place on college campuses,” said Senator Tim Scott (SC), who is leading the bill in the Senate. “Antisemitism has spread like wildfire on college campuses and now more than ever, it is crucial that we stamp it out. I am urging Chuck Schumer to immediately bring my bill, the Antisemitism Awareness Act, to the floor for a vote and for every single Senator to support it. The Senate has a responsibility to stand against hatred so our Jewish brothers and sisters can live without fear.”

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