House Votes to Deem Christian Beliefs and Criticism of Israel as ‘Anti-Semitic’

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(Ken Silva, Headline USA) The House passed legislation Wednesday that criminalizes Christian beliefs, and conflates criticism of the Israeli government with anti-Semitism—the latest response from lawmakers to a nationwide student protest movement over the Israel-Hamas war.

The proposal, which passed 320-91 with some bipartisan support, would codify the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal anti-discrimination law that bars discrimination based on shared ancestry, ethnic characteristics or national origin. The upshot of the legislation is that it could make it easier for students to file civil rights complaints.

Leading up to the vote, lawmakers such as Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Thomas Massie, R-Ky., and Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., warned about the legislation’s implications.

“Antisemitism is wrong, but I will not be voting for the Antisemitism Awareness Act of 2023 (H.R. 6090) today that could convict Christians of antisemitism for believing the Gospel that says Jesus was handed over to Herod to be crucified by the Jews,” Greene said on Twitter.

“Antisemitism is wrong, but this legislation is written without regard for the Constitution, common sense, or even the common understanding of the meaning of words. The Gospel itself would meet the definition of antisemitism under the terms of this bill!” Gaetz said.

Along with criminalizing certain Christian beliefs, the legislation’s adopted definition of anti-Semitism, which deems it antisemitic to claim that the “existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” or to compare “contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

The bill now goes to the Senate where its fate is uncertain.

In a letter sent to lawmakers Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union urged members to vote against the legislation, saying federal law already prohibits anti-Semitic discrimination and harassment.

“H.R. 6090 is therefore not needed to protect against antisemitic discrimination; instead, it would likely chill free speech of students on college campuses by incorrectly equating criticism of the Israeli government with antisemitism,” the letter stated.

Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the centrist pro-Israel group J Street, said his organization opposes the bipartisan proposal because he sees it as an “unserious” effort led by Republicans “to continually force votes that divide the Democratic caucus on an issue that shouldn’t be turned into a political football.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.

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