Congress Passes Dangerous Bill to Silence Criticism of Israel

Washington, D.C. | | May 1, 2024 — In response to the student-led, pro-Palestinian movement, the US House of Representatives today passed the Antisemitism Awareness Act, a bill which is steeped in anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab racism and dangerously conflates concern for Palestinian human rights with danger and hate. It stifles legitimate criticism of the apartheid state of Israel and that of the Biden administration’s complicity in the ongoing genocide. ADC firmly rejects this disingenuous attempt to paint pro-Palestinian and anti-war protesters as any sort of threat, particularly as these students and faculty are the ones facing a very real risk of being attacked by both police and pro-genocide agitators. We stand in solidarity with those facing violence and suppression for their courageous stance against genocide.

Tell the Senate to Protect Students and Faculty!

For months, Americans have seen college administrators, police, and pro-genocide agitators relentlessly assault students and faculty advocating for Palestinians, attacks that have become increasingly violent over the last week. Last night, the NYPD raided protests at Columbia and the City College of New York, prohibiting the media and legal observers from documenting police actions and denying medical aid to those they were raiding. At the same time, non-student, pro-genocide agitators violently assaulted the encampment at UCLA, shooting fireworks directly into the encampment and pummeling peaceful students desperately trying to de-escalate the situation. The events of last night are simply the latest in the brutality leveled against pro-Palestinian students and faculty on campuses nationwide.

ADC Staff Attorney Chris Godshall-Bennett said, “In weaponizing antisemitism by equating criticism of Israel with anti-Jewish hate, this bill erodes the fundamental principles of free expression and academic freedom. As a Jewish person who stands hand-in-hand with my Palestinian brothers and sisters and works daily against anti-Arab hate, I find this weaponization of my identity particularly disgusting. Criticism of Zionism and of the Israeli government is not antisemitic, and conflating the two only serves to provide cover for Israel’s numerous, ongoing human rights abuses and violations of international law, as well as its genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.”

This bill now goes to the Senate. If they pass it, the President will be able to sign it into law.

We need you to contact your

Senators NOW and demand that they protect the free speech of students and faculty on college campuses.

The Antisemitism Awareness Act is not the only dangerous, anti-Palestinian piece of legislation currently being considered in Congress. There is H.R. 7921, the Countering Antisemitism Act, which would codify a narrative that demonizes the pro-Palestinian movement in the US. In the lead up to today’s vote House Democrats were pushing for this bill to be considered instead, but ultimately it was not considered. A second bill which has not yet been scheduled for a vote is H.R. 7914, the Accountability for Terrorist Perpetrators of October 7th Act. This bill dangerously broadens sanctions on Palestinians beyond federally designated terrorist organizations.

However, the most important bill to be aware of that has already passed the House and is being considered in the Senate is H.R. 6408. This bill, which does not have a short title, would give a single US official the authority to strip nonprofit organizations of their tax-exempt status in an autocratic manner, with virtually no limitations or accountability, simply because the organizations have viewpoints that official or presidential administration disagrees with.

The explicit targets of this legislation are organizations involved in or supporting protests against Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza, most notably Students for Justice in Palestine. This is not an assumption. In fact, during the House’s markup of the bill, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith explicitly highlighted two 501(c)(3) organizations when justifying the need for the bill’s swift passage. It is essential that the Senate protect nonprofits from over-broad, politicized executive authority, and ADC calls on its members to contact their Senators to demand that protection.

Scroll to Top