U.S. House considers antisemitism bill amid campus unrest

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House on Wednesday will vote on legislation that would add antisemitism language to a federal anti-discrimination law.

Republicans say the change is needed to codify what counts as antisemitism and give the federal government the ability to withhold funding from schools that allow it to fester.

“We see what it’s doing on our college campuses now,” U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-St. Simons Island, said. “There is no question that we need to address it. It would be irresponsible to allow this to go on.”

Carter has also sponsored separate legislation that would extend federal funding for Holocaust education programs in schools.

Many Democrats and at least one Republican, Kentucky’s Thomas Massie, expressed concern that the legislation would codify the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism. That definition includes some criticism of Israel as antisemitic speech.

The definition of antisemitism includes “applying double standards” of Israel not required of other democracies, comparing Israeli policies to those of Nazi Germany and holding Jews collectively responsible for Israel’s actions.

Critics of the bill say it could infringe on free speech and there are better ways to deal with antisemitism on college campuses.

U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, an Atlanta Democrat, pointed out that since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel there have been multiple votes on the House floor regarding legislation showing support for Israel or condemning antisemitism and it’s starting to feel performative.

“We are voting on this over and over just like we heard a Republican say in the Rules Committee last night that these are bills that are intended to be ‘gotcha’ bills, they are messaging bills,” she said Tuesday.