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Phillips Statement on Countering Antisemitism

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Rep. Dean Phillips (D, MN) released the following statement today after H.R. 6090, the Antisemitism Awareness Act, passed the House on a 320-91 vote: 

"For years, antisemitism has been steadily rising across the United States and around the world. Following the October 7th terrorist attack on Israel in which 1,200 people were brutally murdered and over 200 were taken hostage, that trend has increased dramatically. I am particularly astonished by what we are seeing today on college campuses. The freedom of speech and the right to assemble are among the awesome privileges afforded American citizens. Both must be fiercely protected, even when we might virulently disagree with or take offense to the words. But institutions of higher education are designed to be places in which students can explore new ideas, challenge beliefs, and commit to a lifelong pursuit of knowledge. Instead, the world is watching as campuses across the U.S. have devolved into chaos, with Jewish students being threatened, harassed, and prevented from engaging safely in university life. This is unacceptable.

That is why I supported H.R. 6090, the Antisemitism Awareness Act, an effectually symbolic vote to reaffirm the Department of Education’s existing ability to consider the IHRA working definition of antisemitism as it investigates anti-Jewish discrimination and enforces federal civil rights law. The IHRA definition is a valuable tool and guide for examining instances of antisemitism and strengthens the Department’s ability to respond to anti-Jewish hate on college campuses.

But let me be clear: the political weaponization of antisemitism is as dangerous and shameful as antisemitism itself. We in Congress must get serious about resourcing the implementation of the first-ever U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism that was released by President Biden in May 2023. That is why I call on Speaker Johnson to bring H.R. 7921, the Countering Antisemitism Act, to the Floor expeditiously. This bicameral, bipartisan legislation introduced by the co-Chairs of the House and Senate Bipartisan Task Forces for Combating Antisemitism takes a comprehensive approach to address antisemitism across the U.S., including by establishing the first-ever National Coordinator to Counter Antisemitism and appointing a senior official within the Department of Education responsible for countering antisemitism on college campuses.

The time is now for Congress to step up and pass meaningful, comprehensive legislation to address the scourge of antisemitism on campus and beyond."