Jewish Federations Applaud Introduction of Antisemitism Act to US Senate

Jewish Federations of North America applaud Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tim Scott (R-SC) for introducing the Antisemitism Awareness Act (SB 4127) in the United States Senate, where it has the strong bipartisan support of 14 Democrats, 15 Republicans and 1 Independent. 

Clearly and accurately defining antisemitism is key to combating its manifestations wherever they may appear. The legislation would make permanent the Department of Education’s usage of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism when conducting federal investigations. Jewish Federations have been the leading advocate behind the bill, working across the aisle with both chambers of Congress.  

“Federations across the country have been putting all our weight behind advancing the Antisemitism Awareness Act, so we’re very gratified to see it introduced in the Senate with such strong bipartisan support,” said Karen Paikin Barall, Jewish Federations’ Vice President of Government Relations. “This bill will strengthen the available tools for officials to take strong action against antisemitism on college campuses – an issue that has unfortunately become inescapable given the dramatic rise in antisemitism since the 10/7 attacks. We strongly urge support of this bill and thank its main co-sponsors for their leadership.” 

Earlier this year, Jewish Federations advocated for the bill during its DC fly-in on Capitol Hill, and penned a letter, joined by 16 other top American Jewish organizations, to members of the House of Representatives reaffirming their support for the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism, an accepted definition of antisemitism. 

Following Hamas’s October 7th massacre, incidents of discrimination, harassment, and violence directed against Jewish communities in the United States and around the world have dramatically increased. Over three-quarters of American Jews feel less safe today since those attacks, and almost half have altered their behavior out of fear of antisemitism. The escalating threat of antisemitic violence and discrimination requires a forceful response from our government. 

More than 1,200 entities around the world have adopted or endorsed the IHRA definition, which is the only definition that has been officially recognized internationally and adopted by mainstream Jewish organizations, including the Jewish Federations of North America. It has also been formally adopted by 35 US states, 91 US cities and municipalities, the US State Department, and President Biden’s National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism. It thus represents a significant milestone in the ongoing struggle against antisemitism.   

The IHRA definition has been readily endorsed by over 160 Jewish communities and organizations from over sixty-five countries who believe it best describes the various forms of antisemitism and Jew hatred that they confront. Additionally, hundreds of universities, business enterprises, sports associations, civil society organizations, and other institutions have adopted it. Click here for more information on entities adopting the IHRA definition and the already widespread and established support the IHRA definition has received.  

Its purpose is to inform and not enforce, and it calls for “taking into account the overall context” of the situation. It does not punish speech, even antisemitic speech. Instead, it serves to help lawmakers and others determine when conduct is based on antisemitic bias. 



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