House’s Anti-Semitism Resolution Only Creates More Problems

If passed, this measure would limit free speech and make it harder to address anti-Semitism

March 6, 2019

House Democrats will vote on a resolution denouncing anti-Semitism as “antithetical to the United States.” While anti-Semitism is undoubtedly a very real and important issue facing the American Jewish community and should be combated by all, this resolution would only undermine any such efforts.

For starters, the resolution fails to consider anti-Semitic violence as constitutive of a broader landscape of hatred and bigotry. The very hate crimes statistics which are referenced in the resolution, and which show a rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes, also show similar consistent increases in hate crimes across other groups, including Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim.

While the resolution acknowledges that “all Americans have a stake in fighting hatred and bigotry of all forms,” it does not come along with similar resolutions against those other forms, nor as part of a larger plan to address the overall increase in hateful and bigoted violence. That holds true even if the resolution is updated to acknowledge anti-Muslim biases as well. By being introduced as a standalone measure, the resolution effectively slights those other forms of bigotry and hate and reveals this current Congress to be wholly unprepared to address the overall problem. All forms of such violence play off of one another, and must, therefore, be addressed concurrently, not through a series of one-off measures.

Furthermore, this resolution is but the latest step in an incremental movement toward criminalizing any criticism of Israel. Just last month, the Senate passed a bill that would do just that. For its part, this resolution would only make it harder for citizens and members of Congress to offer legitimate criticism of Israel. We have recent proof of this difficulty. Just last month, Democrats decided to pass on censuring Republican Congressman Steve King, owner of a well-documented history of anti-Semitism, over concerns that doing so would limit members’ free speech. While this resolution does not explicitly mention Rep. Ilhan Omar, reports suggest that it was drafted as a concerted response to Rep. Omar’s criticism of AIPAC and legitimate questioning of Israeli policies. Passing this resolution would effectively reinforce the conflation between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism and use it as a cudgel to stymie members’ speech.

We stand in support of both Rep. Ilhan Omar, and of all those who are being silenced as a result of this Congress’ undermining of free speech and their insufficient attempts to address this legitimate problem.



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