• Antisemitism Awareness Act of 2023 - Hate Speech Versus Freedom Of Speech Versus The Bible

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    Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York, who is Jewish, rarely agree, but on Wednesday both of them voted against the Antisemitism Awareness Act of 2023 (H.R. 6090) as demonstrations and sit-ins continue to rock U.S. college campuses over the Israeli Hamas conflict.

    The bill passed the House 320-91.

    The bill would require the Department of Education to use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's working definition of antisemitism when applying anti-discrimination laws.

    Congressman Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) led the measure with 15 Democratic co-sponsors. A coalition of Republicans and Democrats who voted against the bill said it infringes on free speech. The opposition came from 70 Democrats and 21 Republicans.

    “I’m proud that my bill, the Antisemitism Awareness Act, just passed the House of Representatives 320 to 91. This bill has broad, bipartisan support and will begin the process of cracking down on the antisemitism we’ve seen run rampant on college campuses across America,” Lawler posted on X

    Nadler delivered a speech on the floor of the House calling the legislation a “threat to freedom of speech.” 

    “Much of this activity—whether you agree with the sentiments expressed at these protests or not—constitutes legally protected speech and expression…But, this legislation is not the answer,” stated Nadler. 

    The congressman called the measure “political theatrics.”

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    Nadler used his objection to the bill as an opportunity to strike republicans for “fiddling around with definitions,” even though it was democrats who introduced it. He also took a stab at republicans for criticizing George Soros.  

    “We hear nothing from our Republican colleagues when some conservatives repeat antisemitic tropes about George Soros or others,” noted Nadler. 

    “By contrast, this legislation threatens freedom of speech, one of our most cherished values, while doing nothing to combat antisemitism,” added Nadler. 

    You can read Nadler's speech in full here. 

    Majorie Taylor Greene took to social media and raised the ante on the measure infringing upon Christian religious beliefs in the Bible. 

    “Antisemitism is wrong, but I will not be voting for the Antisemitism Awareness Act of 2023 (H.R. 6090) today that could convict Christians of antisemitism for believing the Gospel that says Jesus was handed over to Herod to be crucified by the Jews,” Greene posted on X

    Congressman Matt Gaetz also voted against the bill based upon religious and constitutional grounds. 

    "This legislation is written without regard for the Constitution, common sense, or even the common understanding of the meaning of words," Gaetz wrote. "The Gospel itself would meet the definition of antisemitism under the terms of this bill! The bill says the definition of antisemitism includes “contemporary examples of antisemitism” identified by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). One of those examples includes: …claims of Jews killing Jesus…” Gaetz posted on X. 

    The bill requires the Department of Education to use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism when enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws. 

    The Alliance's website is very specific of its definition of antisemitism. 

    "Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

    • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
    • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
    • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
    • Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
    • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
    • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
    • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
    • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
    • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
    • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
    • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel," reads their website statement.

    Many of the pro-Palestinian protesters on college campuses are calling for their colleges to divest of funds from Israeli military operations.

    Last week, Speaker Mike Johnson visited Columbia University in New York City and expressed his moral outrage.

    "Columbia is out of control," Johnson stated.

    He was joined by some New York Republican colleagues and called for Columbia University President Minouche Shafik to resign. 

    The day before the bill passed, Johnson announced that the House was expanding its investigation into antisemitism on US college campuses and the House would be looking into their federal funding specifically. Many members have called for colleges with these protests to lose federal funding.

    House Committee on Education and Workforce Chair Virginia Foxx, joined by GOP leadership and committee chairs at the press conference on Tuesday, said she's notified the presidents of Yale, UCLA and the University of Michigan to appear before the Education Committee on May 23.

    “American universities are officially put on notice that we have come to take our universities back,” Foxx said.

    House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries (NY) urged Speaker Johnson to consider a different bipartisan bill targeting antisemitism introduced by Congresswoman Kathy Manning (D-NC) and Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) entitled titled the "Countering Antisemitism Act." 

    That legislation would have established within the White House a national coordinator to counter antisemitism; require the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and National Counterterrorism Center to jointly produce an annual threat assessment of antisemitic violent extremism; and require the Department of Education to designate a senior official to advise on countering antisemitic discrimination in higher education.

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    Christine Dolan

    Christine Dolan is a seasoned Investigative Journalist, television producer, author, and photographer. She is Co-Founder of American Conversations whose format focuses on in-depth analysis of critical issues about “the story behind the headlines.”

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