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House to vote on antisemitism resolution declaring anti-Zionism is antisemitic

The resolution, sponsored by two Jewish Republicans, is likely to split progressive Democrats

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images/ Photo by WADE VANDERVORT/AFP via Getty Images

Rep. Max Miller, R-Ohio, leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference at the Capitol Hill Club on Wednesday, July 26, 2023/ US Representative David Kustoff (R-TN) speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 19, 2022.

The House will vote this week on a resolution by Jewish Republican Reps. David Kustoff (R-TN) and Max Miller (R-OH) condemning the “drastic rise of antisemitism” in the U.S. and globally, the language of which could split progressive Democrats.

The resolution clearly and firmly states that “anti-Zionism is antisemitic” — an argument that some on the left have argued seeks to restrict anti-Israel rhetoric, including those organized by anti-Zionist Jewish groups. The House last week approved a resolution stating that denial of Israel’s right to exist is antisemitic, with just one vote against, although the broader language in this resolution could prompt additional votes against.

The legislation also states that “the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism is widely accepted and serves as a critical tool to help individuals comprehend and identify the various manifestations of antisemitism.”

While the resolution is nonbinding — it would not codify the IHRA definition or give it any legal force — some on the left may object to its privileging of the IHRA definition. A group of progressive House members, led by two Jewish representatives and the chair of the progressive caucus, urged the administration in 2021 to consider alternative definitions of antisemitism endorsed by the left, in addition to IHRA.

Progressives have argued that the IHRA definition is too restrictive in characterizing anti-Israel activity as antisemitic, a dispute that became a flashpoint during the drafting process for the Biden administration’s national antisemitism strategy.

The resolution also characterizes the slogan “from the River to the Sea” as a “rallying cry for the eradication of the state of Israel and the Jewish people.” Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) was censured last month in part for her use of this phrase; 22 House Democrats voted for the censure.

Although some of the language in the resolution could repel progressives, the House will vote on the resolution under procedures requiring two-thirds support, indicating that House Republicans expect it will receive support from a significant number of Democrats.

The legislation also highlights statistics, and specific anecdotes, underscoring the rise of antisemitism since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, both in the U.S. and globally. 

It includes in this list an anti-Israel demonstration outside the White House, accusing the demonstrators of attempting to “storm” the building, and the protest outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters, alleging the demonstrators “violently attacked” the building “endangering the lives of individuals inside.”

The resolution goes on to state that the House “strongly condemns and denounces all instances of antisemitism,” “reaffirms and reiterates its strong support for the Jewish community,” “calls on elected officials and world leaders to condemn and fight” antisemitism at home and abroad and “rejects all forms of terror, hate, discrimination, and harassment” of Jews.

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