Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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House passes Antisemitism Awareness Act as Jewish NU students lobby for bill in Washington

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Daily file photo by Jacob Wendler
If the policy passes the Senate, the U.S. Department of Education will be required to use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism in its enforcement of anti-discrimination statutes.

A group of more than a dozen Jewish Northwestern students lobbied in Washington on Wednesday for the passage of the bipartisan Antisemitism Awareness Act, which passed the House of Representatives in a 320-91 vote.

If the policy passes the Senate, the U.S. Department of Education will be required to use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism to inform its enforcement of federal statutes that prohibit discrimination against students.

The IHRA definition of antisemitism — adopted by the Department of State and over 30 IHRA member countries — includes both rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism directed at Jewish individuals, institutions and facilities.

IHRA includes “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination,” like calling “the existence of a State of Israel … a racist endeavor,” in its working definition of antisemitism. However, the group notes “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

Students visited representatives’ offices to advocate for the bill, connect with pro-Israel organizations like StandWithUs and the Anti-Defamation League, and share concerns about incidents of antisemitism on campus that occurred during a more than 100-hour pro-Palestine encampment on Deering Meadow.

Medill sophomore Toby Khabie went on the trip. He said students met with representatives including Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J.; Michelle Steel, R-Calif.; Jared Moskowitz, D-Fla.; Mike Lawler, R-N.Y.; Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.; Rudy Yakym, R-Ind.; Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y.; and Blake Moore, R-Utah. Some students also met with staff from the Committee on Education and the Workforce.

“As much as I’m very much in support of protesting, there are ways to do it that don’t harm other populations,” Khabie said. “And this encampment was very harmful to Jewish students.”

A sign found near the encampment depicted a Star of David with a red line crossing through it. Another sign depicted University President Michael Schill with devil horns, a historically antisemitic trope that harkens back to medieval-era “blood libel” accusations against Jewish people. Schill condemned both incidents in a video message to the NU community Tuesday night.

The encampment culminated in a Monday agreement between the University and demonstrators. Jewish NU students expressed mixed feelings about the recently deescalated demonstration, with members of Jewish Voice for Peace, an organizer of the encampment, expressing support as other Jewish students voiced discomfort.

Khabie said there are still problems for Jewish students on campus, but that the passage of the bill made him feel that his voice was being heard.

“I hope that most college students respect the fact that Jews are the ones that get to define antisemitism,” Khabie said.

Email: [email protected] 

X: @sqpowers04

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