The definition of anti-Semitism was expanded in the first vote in Congress

Democratic and Republican representatives voted this Wednesday, May 1, to expand the definition of anti-Semitism in the wake of a student rally for Gaza. The measure must now pass into the hands of senators.

The US House of Representatives voted Wednesday (May 1) to expand the Department of Education's definition of anti-Semitism, a move proposed in response to pro-Palestinian protests that have rocked campuses across the country.

A segment of the US political class accuses demonstrators at universities of “anti-Semitism” and, among other things, chanting slogans hostile to Israel, America's major ally in the Middle East.

A definition that is discussed

there Legal proposalAdopted later in the day by elected officials from both sides, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) uses the definition of anti-Semitism proposed.

According to it, “anti-Semitism is the cult of worship that manifests itself in hatred of Jews and/or targets Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, social institutions and places.

The definition also includes “targeting the State of Israel as viewed by the Jewish community”. “However, criticism of Israel as directed against any other country cannot be considered anti-Semitic,” it said.

This definition would be incorporated into the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an anti-discrimination law enacted at the end of segregation. AP refers to the institution.

“It's time for Congress to act to protect Jewish-Americans on campuses across the country,” Rep. Russell Frye, Republican of South Carolina, responded Tuesday.

Freedom of expression

Critics of the proposed law, however, believe the definition precludes some criticism of the State of Israel, which the IHRA defends. They accuse members of Congress of pushing for its passage in order to curb free speech on American campuses.

Democrat-elect Jerry Nadler warned against the speech that “comments critical of Israel are not unlawfully discriminatory.”

“I don't believe anti-Zionism is inherently anti-Semitic. I support Israel's right to exist, but I also know many people who question Israel's existence as a Jewish state and are deeply connected to their Judaism,” Sarah Jacobs added. Democratic Representative of the Jewish Faith, in X.

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The law “risks restricting the freedom of expression of students on university campuses by falsely equating criticism of the Israeli government with anti-Semitism,” the American Civil Liberties Union also warned in a letter to lawmakers cited by the AP.

To take effect, the measure must still pass the Senate, where its future is still uncertain, and then President Biden must sign it into law.

François Blanchard with AFP

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