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Antisemitism Awareness Act passed by US House explained



The Antisemitism Awareness Act has passed through the US House of Representatives to broaden the definition of antisemitism in the national discourse amid the unrest at campuses.

U.S. Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY) speaks during a press conference outside of Columbia University on April 22, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by David Dee Delgado / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)(Getty Images via AFP)

Led by Representatives Mike Lawler and Josh Gottheimer and backed by a bipartisan coalition, the bill garnered a 320-91 vote in favour.

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“In every generation, the Jewish people have been scapegoated, harassed, evicted from their homeland and murdered,” Lawler said.

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About Antisemitism Awareness Act

The “Antisemitism Awareness Act” which was unanimously endorsed by both parties in October last year has gained even more importance after the deadly Hamas attack that has triggered reports of antisemitism across US universities. The Act requires the Department of Education to adopt the definition of antisemitism given in the resolution on the Holocaust.

Antisemitism definition says, it is a certain perception of Jews which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. It goes on to define examples of antisemitism and some of the heated rhetoric hard on college campuses of late would be included.

The new definition will incorporate denying the Jewish “self-determination to their ancestral homeland of Israel.”

Under the new act colleges that fail to protect Jewish students could face civil rights enforcement.

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However, some Democratic lawmakers, including Rep. Jerry Nadler, raised objections to the bill, expressing concerns that it could stifle constitutionally-protected free speech that includes criticism of Israel

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Nadler, who is Jewish, highlighted the bill’s potential bias towards a singular definition of antisemitism, stating it could “chill” legitimate discourse.

The antisemitism has spurred in light of the situations on almost 30 campuses with shots related to the case of the Gaza region.

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