RELEASE: House Overwhelmingly Passes Gottheimer-led Bipartisan Legislation Standing Up to Antisemitic Hate on Campuses

Requires the Department of Education to use widely-supported IHRA definition of antisemitism in Title VI investigations. Builds on Gottheimer’s commitment to protect students and stand up to hate in all forms

May 01, 2024
Press

Above: Gottheimer on the House floor.

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Wednesday, May 1, 2024, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Mike Lawler’s (NY-17) bipartisan legislation — the Antisemitism Awareness Act — overwhelmingly passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. This legislation, which is supported by thirty of the country’s leading Jewish groups, requires the Department of Education to use the widely-supported International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism in Title VI discrimination investigations. The IHRA definition has been used by the U.S. State Department over the last three administrations. By codifying this definition into law, Jewish students will be more protected from antisemitic discrimination, harassment, and threats. This bill will give investigators at the Department of Education a clear framework and the proper tools for  identifying and evaluating antisemitism, helping resolve some of the 137 active Title VI investigations and hold harassers accountable. The bill passed the House by a vote of 320-91.

Video of Gottheimer’s remarks on the House floor can be found here.

“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.”

“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.”

Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of my bipartisan bill, the Antisemitism Awareness Act, to ensure that we’re standing up to the Jew hate that’s spreading like wildfire on campuses across our country. I’m proud to lead this legislation with my fellow Problem Solvers Caucus member, Congressman Lawler.

As we are voting, in real time, our country’s universities are experiencing a tidal wave of antisemitism. Protesters have targeted Jewish students, haranguing them with awful Jew-hating insults and cheering on Hamas — a barbaric foreign terrorist organization that murdered Americans on October 7 and still holds five living Americans hostage, including my constituent, Edan Alexander.

I saw these protests up-close and personal at Columbia earlier this month. I’ve heard the sickening comments, comparing Zionists to Nazis, promising a redux of October 7 “a thousand times over,” and calling for resistance “by any means necessary” and “intifada revolution.” Intifada is used to call for violent uprising against Israel. These protests embolden Hamas, America’s enemy. In fact, they’ve put out a statement lauding protesters as “the leaders of the future.”

Let me clear up any confusion: this bill protects the First Amendment. It allows criticism of Israel. It doesn’t allow calls for the destruction or elimination of the Jewish state. Even more, our universities have a Title VI obligation to stamp out harassment on the basis of race, color, or national origin.

Colleagues, we cannot stand idly by as protesters call for the deaths of Jews on college campuses and across the country. 

This bill will require the Department of Education to use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance or IHRA definition of antisemitism when carrying out Title VI investigations. IHRA’s antisemitism definition is the most widely recognized in the world, used by 36 states. It condemns traditional hatred and the ugly, modern antisemitism that we’re seeing on campuses.

There is no excuse to vote against this bill. When it was first introduced in 2018, 50 Democrats and Republicans co-sponsored it, including members still in this body.

Right now, the Department of Education has 137 active Title VI investigations, some of which have been open for years. The bill will give investigators a clear framework to evaluate antisemitism and finally hold harassers accountable. 

Don’t just take my word for it. Thirty of our nation’s leading Jewish groups back this bill. Under the last three administrations, the State Department has used the IHRA definition to monitor antisemitism worldwide. This bill takes a commonsense step to formalize the IHRA definition for our education system.

When I spoke at Columbia last week, I told administrators that we need deeds, not words to protect Jewish students. Colleagues, I’m making the same ask of you. This bill is a critical step we can take to stand against hate. I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join me in supporting this legislation.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I yield back.

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