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US House to pass another resolution conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism

December 5, 2023 at 1:38 pm

From left, Reps. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, Max Miller, R-Ohio, and David Kustoff, R-Tenn., talk with reporters in the Capitol Visitor Center after an all members briefing on the attack on Israel on Wednesday, October 11, 2023 [Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images]

A week after US lawmakers expressed frustration in having to vote for yet another pro-Israel resolution, the House is expected to vote again this week to declare anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, in a new bill which critics say will further undermine free speech protected by the US constitution.

House Resolution 894 — introduced by Jewish Republicans, Representative David Kustoff (Tenn.) and Max Miller (Ohio) – “clearly and firmly states that anti-Zionism is antisemitism.” The bill embraces the highly controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) so called working definition of anti-Semitism, which, while not explicitly mentioning anti-Zionism, includes “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination” and “claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavour,” as anti-Semitic.

“Since October 7, we have seen an alarming rise in antisemitic incidents, attacks, harassment, and discrimination both in the United States and across the globe,” Kustoff said in a statement introducing the bill. “Such hate has no place in our national discourse, and it is imperative leaders voice their strong opposition to these horrifying acts of violence and discrimination.”

Many Jewish American critics, however, have denounced the conflation of hatred of Jews with opposition to Israel, a settler-colonial apartheid state with codified Jewish primacy  illegally occupying and oppressing Palestine while waging what many call a genocidal war on Gaza.

“This Republican-led resolution threatens both Jewish and Palestinian safety, ignores the threat of rising white nationalism, and is a direct attack on free speech,” said Jewish Voice for Peace Action on X.

“Conflating anti-Zionism with antisemitism conflates all Jews with the Israeli state and endangers Jewish communities,” the Jewish group added.

“Just as blaming all Jews for Israel’s actions is antisemitic, so is the inverse: suggesting that Jewish people are synonymous with Israel and Zionism.”

Jewish Voice for Peace Action argued that equating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism unfairly targets Palestinians and advocates for Palestinian rights. By conflating the two issues, Palestinians are forced into silence about injustice towards them or face false accusations of bigotry. There is a history of such tactics being used to repress Palestinian perspectives in the US through censorship, job loss and violence, they went on to say.

While real anti-Semitism is extremely serious, the tweets suggest the proposed resolution weaponises the fight against anti-Semitism to attack and silence Palestinians. They also contend the resolution violates free speech rights by trying to police speech critical of Israel.

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