House passes measure condemning antisemitism; one GOP lawmaker votes ‘no’
The House passed a resolution on Wednesday condemning the rise of antisemitism in a nearly unanimous vote, with one Republican lawmaker objecting to the measure.
The resolution passed 420-1, with Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) representing the only vote against it. Eight other Republicans did not vote.
Reached Thursday for comment on his vote, Massie’s office referred The Hill to a tweet in which he said the resolution “promoted internet censorship and violations of the 1st amendment.”
“I don’t hate anyone based on his or her ethnicity or religion. Legitimate government exists, in part, to punish those who commit unprovoked violence against others, but government can’t legislate thought,” Massie added in the Thursday tweet.
The resolution calls on elected officials, faith leaders and leaders in civil society to use their positions of authority “to condemn and combat any and all manifestations of antisemitism.”
The measure also urges individuals to denounce denials or distortions of the Holocaust and encourages them to promote education focused on the Holocaust and antisemitism.
“Tragically, antisemitism followed Jewish Americans from the old world to the new one, and it’s become a growing cancer on our body politic,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said from the House floor on Wednesday.
“Too many Americans need to hear the loud voices of their Congress calling out antisemitism, because too many of our fellow citizens are hearing leaders they support and trust either give voice to antisemitism or rationalize antisemitism,” he added.
The resolution comes after the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported last month that antisemitic incidents in the U.S. hit a record high in 2021. In its annual audit, the group said it counted 2,717 antisemitic incidents in the U.S. last year, including harassment and vandalism.
That number marked the highest the organization has recorded since it started tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979. The resolution cited the ADL’s report.
The measure comes during Jewish American Heritage Month. It was also passed days after a gunman opened fire at a grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y., killing 10 individuals. Thirteen people in total were shot, 11 of whom were Black.
The suspected shooter — 18-year-old Payton Gendron of Conklin, N.Y. — allegedly espoused the “great replacement theory,” which is a baseless, racist conspiracy theory that an increasing number of minorities and immigrants are intentionally overrunning white Americans.
According to the ADL, the conspiracy is now associated with antisemitism because many white supremacists in the U.S. say Jews are responsible for nonwhite immigration to America.
Hoyer mentioned the Buffalo shooting in remarks on the House floor when discussing the bill.
“It is not enough simply to be against antisemitism. We must not rationalize or temporize with antisemitism,” Hoyer said.
The resolution also calls for “amplifying and ensuring” that the U.S. takes a lead in fighting global antisemitism, specifically urging cooperation with the U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, along with international governments and parliaments.
Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt was confirmed as special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism in March.
Additionally, the resolution calls on social media platforms to step up efforts to address antisemitism while still safeguarding free speech concerns and encourages taking “all possible steps” to bolster the security of Jewish institutions and groups in the U.S., among other provisions.
–Updated on May 19 at 1:46 p.m.
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