Senators to introduce new bipartisan campus antisemitism resolution
The legislation has the support of a broad spectrum of Jewish community groups and follows a failed resolution by Republicans last week
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Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) are set to introduce a resolution today condemning antisemitism on college campuses, which has exploded following the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack on Israel, Jewish Insider has learned.
The resolution, obtained by JI, has support from a wide array of Jewish community organizations and comes days after Republicans, led by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), attempted to pass their own resolution on the subject but were blocked by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).
The Blackburn/Rosen resolution states that the rise in antisemitic incidents on campus has created “an atmosphere of fear for Jewish students and faculty” and that “acts of hate, discrimination, and violence based on religion or ethnicity have no place at institutions that exist to further education and understanding between diverse student bodies.”
The resolution “strongly condemns” such incidents, calls on school leaders and administrators to “publicly condemn speech that incites or celebrates violence against any people based on religious beliefs, national origin, or ancestry” and urges schools to engage with Jewish communities on campus.
The legislation pushes back on statements from some university administrators who have declined to comment on or condemn anti-Israel and antisemitic activity on their campuses in the name of free speech and expression.
“Freedom of speech and expression are foundational principles of institutions of higher education in the United States,” the resolution reads, “but when these principles are used to promote violence, hatred, or discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs, national origin, or ancestry, higher education leaders have the right and an obligation to respond.”
Unlike Hawley’s resolution last week, the new resolution stops short of explicitly accusing students and student groups of supporting Hamas’ atrocities in Israel and does not name any specific student groups or universities. Republicans introduced several other pieces of legislation attacking antisemitism on college campuses last week as well.
The Blackburn/Rosen legislation has the backing of the Anti-Defamation League, World Jewish Congress, Jewish on Campus, Republican Jewish Coalition, American Jewish Committee and Hadassah.
“In the aftermath of the horrific terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel, we are already seeing a rise in incidents targeting Jewish students and faculty on college and university campuses around the country,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “Thank you, Senators Blackburn and Rosen, for this important statement urging campus leaders, faculty, and administrators to speak up and ensure these higher education institutions remain places where Jewish students and faculty can safely be their true authentic selves,”
Hadassah National President Rhoda Smolow and CEO Naomi Adler added, “Growing antisemitism on college campuses is making Jewish students feel unsafe and afraid to claim their Jewish identities for fear of violence against them, and we must speak out to fight it.” They thanked the lawmakers “for their leadership in standing against antisemitism and urging leaders at institutions of higher education to publicly condemn any statements that celebrate or could incite violence against any people based on their national origin or ancestry.”
Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, there are new signs of friction for the Biden administration’s proposed aid package for Israel and Ukraine.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) said yesterday that tying the two issues together “will only delay what’s urgently needed in Israel’s fight against Hamas.” And Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH), a committed opponent of Ukraine aid, began circulating a memo on Monday opposing linking the two issues.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the only senator currently calling for an Israel-Hamas cease-fire, said that “Congress cannot approve BILLIONS in a supplemental budget that ONLY addresses critical emergencies around the world,” demanding that domestic issues including child care, health care, housing and opioid addiction also be included in the bill.
Sen. Peter Welch (D-VT), another progressive Democrat, announced his opposition to a ground invasion of Gaza yesterday, while still defending Israel’s “absolute right to attack Hamas” in response to the Oct. 7 attack.
“I have grave concerns about the wisdom and military efficacy of an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza,” Welch said. “There is no doubt that an imminent ground invasion would be catastrophic for innocent Palestinians in Gaza and jeopardize urgent efforts to save hostages.”