WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) helped introduce the bipartisan Antisemitism Awareness Act alongside Representatives Mike Lawler (NY-17), Max Miller (OH-7), and Jared Moskowitz (FL-23) to require the Department of Education to use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism when enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws. The IHRA definition underscores that antisemitism includes denying Jewish self-determination to their ancestral homeland of Israel, holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel, and applying double standards to Israel. Senator Tim Scott (SC) introduced the legislation in the Senate.
The legislation is co-sponsored by Representatives 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).
“Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, since the heinous terrorist attack on Israel, there has been an explosion of antisemitism, violence and intimidation at home and around the world — especially on our college campuses. As the only Jewish member of the New Jersey congressional delegation, I’m full of grief, anger, and disgust following the darkest day in Jewish history since the end of the Holocaust,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “I’m helping lead the bipartisan Antisemitism Awareness Act because we have an obligation to teach future generations about this evil and protect Jewish students from violence and the virulent impact of all hate.”
“The amount of antisemitism we consistently see on college campuses is disturbing and unacceptable,” said Congressman Mike Lawler (NY-17). “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.”
“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,” said Sen. Tim Scott (SC). “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.”
“Since the Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel, we have seen an uptick of violence, hatred, and antisemitic attacks on the Jewish Community. Those who commit antisemitic attacks with the sole purpose of hurting the Jewish community must be held accountable to the full extent of the law. With the hatred we’ve witnessed over the last couple weeks, it’s beyond clear we need a multi-layered approach to stopping antisemitism,” said Congressman Jared Moskowitz (FL-23).
“Antisemitism has spread like wildfire on college campuses, and it is rearing its ugly head in the wake of Hamas’s ruthless attack on Israel. College students celebrate terrorists who brutally murder innocent civilians as ‘martyrs’ and faculty members call Hamas’s assault ‘exhilarating.’ This abhorrent behavior underscores the clear need for federal policy to protect Jewish students on these unfriendly campuses,” said Congressman Max Miller (OH-7).
“We thank Reps. Lawler and Gottheimer for introducing the Antisemitism Awareness Act. Antisemitism is metastasizing on college campuses, resulting in a tremendous problem with many Jewish students feeling the need to hide their Jewish identity. The palpable increase in the hatred of Jews the last few weeks we have seen this hatred towards Jewish students leave many in fear. In order to begin to address the problem of antisemitism, there must be clarity about what antisemitism actually is. The IHRA working definition provides guidance in addressing this challenge,” said William C. Daroff, CEO Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
“Representative Mike Lawler and Sen. Tim Scott’s Antisemitism Awareness Act could not have come at a more urgent time,” said Israeli-American Council (IAC) CEO Elan S. Carr, who also serves on the advisory board of the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM). “Too many of our universities and schools have become intolerable places for Jewish students, many of whom hide their identity or support for Israel to avoid persecution. Shockingly, the harassment of Jews on campus has only increased in the wake of the horrific murders of 1,400 Israelis by Hamas terrorists. This is absolutely unacceptable and must stop. This bill is an important step in the right direction. By codifying the use of the IHRA definition of antisemitism for adjudicating Title VI Civil Rights cases, the act will give the Department of Education an important tool for protecting Jewish students. We are deeply grateful to Rep. Lawler and Sen. Scott, as well as to the other leaders of this important effort, especially Rep. Josh Gottheimer.”
“We welcome the introduction of the Antisemitism Awareness Act of 2023. This significant legislation underlines the critical need to combat the disturbing rise in antisemitism in the United States, particularly on our college campuses. By adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, we can provide much-needed clarity in identifying and combating this age-old hatred. The Jewish Federations maintain our commitment to its uncontested use. We urge Congress to pass this bill swiftly to send a clear message that antisemitism will not be tolerated,” said Karen Paikin Barall, Associate Vice President, Jewish Federations of North America.
“Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, is proud to support the Antisemitism Awareness Act and will continue to advocate for policies that fight the alarming surge in antisemitism,” said Hadassah National President Rhoda Smolow and CEO Naomi Adler. “The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Definition of Antisemitism is an essential tool for identifying Jew-hatred and should be used to inform protections against discrimination in educational programs. We applaud Congressman Lawler, Congressman Gottheimer and Senator Scott for their leadership in fighting hatred and discrimination by introducing this important, bipartisan bill.”
“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,” said Sacha Roytman Dratwa, CEO of the Combat Antisemitism Movement.
“The Zionist Organization of America strongly endorses this legislation. As the reaction of some to the barbaric attacks on southern Israel communities has shown, it is essential that the hatred of Jews is clearly identified as antisemitism and that the definition of discrimination against Jews under federal law has no ambiguity. President Biden’s policy on antisemitism was purposely ambiguous about the definition to allow some antisemites to disguise their anti-Israel hate. The IHRA definition of antisemitism must be the only standard used by the federal government. Rep. Lawler has shown strong leadership in proposing this bill and getting a large coalition to support it,” said Dan Pollak, Director of Government Relations, Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).
The organizations that endorse the Antisemitism Awareness Act include: Israeli-American Council (IAC), Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations (COP), Hadassah, Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU), American Jewish Committee (AJC), and Anti-Defamation League (ADL).