House Bill Codifies Definition of Antisemitism, Raises Free Speech Concerns

The House of Representatives passed the Antisemitism Awareness Act, which expands the definition of antisemitism.

The bill passed in a vote of 320-91.

Twenty-one Republicans and seventy Democrats opposed the bill.

Representative Mike Lawler (R-NY) said in a statement on X, “I’m proud that my bill, the Antisemitism Awareness Act, just passed the House of Representatives 320 to 91. This bill has broad, bipartisan support and will begin the process of cracking down on the antisemitism we’ve seen run rampant on college campuses across America.”

The bill uses the definition of antisemitism as adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which reads, “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Examples of antisemitism, among others, as provided by IHRA include:

  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
  • Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust)
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis

Representative Matt Gaetz voted against the bill, saying that the “Gospel itself would meet the definition of antisemitism under the terms of this bill!”

“The bill says the definition of antisemitism includes ‘contemporary examples of antisemitism’ identified by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). One of those examples includes: “…claims of Jews killing Jesus,'” he wrote on X. “The Bible is clear. There is no myth or controversy on this. Therefore, I will not support this bill.”

Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) also voiced concerns about the bill.

“Do you agree with all of these examples of antisemitism? Should people in America be prosecuted for saying these things in all contexts?” he asked. “I think not. This is a poorly conceived unconstitutional bill and I will vote no.”

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) said she “fully support[s]” the bill, however, explaining that it “codifies President Trump’s Executive Order and is an incredibly important step to ensure that Jewish students and community members at America’s universities feel safe once again on campus and sends a clear message that@HouseGOP will not tolerate antisemitism anywhere.”

Donald Trump’s 2019 executive order on antisemitism said the “Contemporary Examples of Anti-Semitism” as identified by the IHRA may be “useful as evidence of discriminatory intent.”