Last week the US Senate rushed passage of the misnamed “Anti-Antisemitism Awareness Act of 2016” by a voice vote with no debate. Rather than targeting real anti-Semitism, the resolution takes aim at activism — especially on campuses — against Israeli government policies that are tightening control over the Occupied Palestinian territories and extinguishing the hopes for peace.
The Senate action was applauded by AIPAC, the leading voice of the US Israel Lobby, and other organizations which apparently see defending Israel’s actions as more urgent than opposing the real anti-Semitic voices among supporters of the incoming Trump administration.
The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act endorses a definition of anti-Semitism, which includes “delegitimizing” Israel, “demonizing” Israel or holding Israel to a “double standard.” The bill directs the Department of Education to consider this definition when investigating complaints of anti-Semitism on campus. It conflates criticism of Israeli policies with anti-Jewish hatred, shutting down debate and demonizing students who are engaging in criticism of Israel. If anything, this bill provokes anti-Semitism by the false assertion that the Israeli government speaks for all Jews outside that country.
Now the “Anti-Antisemitism Awareness Act of 2016” — H.R.6421 — has been introduced in the House of Representatives and it is time to stop this blatant attack on free speech. This bill shouldn’t just concern those who take an interest in Palestinian freedom. Let your representative know that you are opposed to censorship under the false pretense of protecting against discrimination.