A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers introduced in Congress on Thursday the Antisemitism Awareness Act, which would require the Department of Education to use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism and its 11 contemporary examples when enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws.
The initiative is being led by Senator Tim Scott (SC) and Representatives Mike Lawler (NY-17), Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), Max Miller (OH-07), and Jared Moskowitz (FL-23).
“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,” a statement published by Representative Lawler’s office said.
The Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) welcomed the bill’s introduction, with CAM CEO Sacha Roytman Dratwa commenting, “The IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism is the most authoritative and effective tool to delineate all forms of contemporary Jew-hatred across the ideological spectrum, and has been adopted by more than 1,200 entities worldwide. Jews are the most targeted group for religious-motivated hate crimes in the United States, and we are encouraged by this legislative initiative to ensure that the American Jewish community is as fully protected by federal anti-discrimination laws as other minorities.”
Organizations endorsing the Antisemitism Awareness Act in addition to CAM included: the Israeli-American Council (IAC), Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations (COP), Hadassah, Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), Christians United For Israel (CUFI), Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU), American Jewish Committee (AJC), and Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
“The amount of antisemitism we consistently see on college campuses is disturbing and unacceptable,” Representative Lawler said. “Colleges and universities have long been breeding grounds of antisemitism and the recent Hamas attack has taken it to the next level. Now, more than ever, it’s critical that we crack down on antisemitic hate within our own country.”
“The Antisemitism Awareness Act is a strong step in the right direction on this front, providing the Department of Education with a clear definition of antisemitism in order to combat this scourge on college campuses,” he added. “The fact is, antisemitism is rampant in our country and we must quash it as quickly as possible.”
Senator Scott stated, “Our nation’s institutions of higher learning have become hotbeds of antisemitism, especially in the wake of the brutal Hamas terror attacks against Israel and innocent civilians. It’s critical the Department of Education has the tools and resources it needs to investigate antisemitism and root out this vile hatred wherever it rears its ugly head.”
Other co-sponsors of the bill — the text of which can be read in full here — included: Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Tom Kean (NJ-07), David Kustoff (TN-08), Shontel Brown (OH-11), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), and Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18).