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Lankford Introduces Bill to Take on Antisemitism on College Campuses

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced the Antisemitism Awareness Act. The bill will help address antisemitic sentiment and action on college campuses—which has been rising across the nation for years and spiked in the wake of Hamas’ terrorist attack on October 7, 2023—by requiring the US Department of Education to consider the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism when enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws.

“Antisemitism is never acceptable—especially in our schools and colleges. Students at every level should be able to freely live their faith without fear of discrimination and targeted attacks. The Department of Education should adopt a clear definition of antisemitism to better protect Jewish students,” said Lankford.

“Hamas’ horrific terrorist attack on October 7 led to a dramatic increase in antisemitism on college campuses,” said Casey. “Amidst this appalling increase, we must do everything we can to protect Jewish students on college campuses. This bill will make sure that going forward, the Education Department will take action against all forms of antisemitic discrimination.”

“Our nation’s institutions of higher learning have become hotbeds of antisemitism, especially in the wake of the brutal attacks against Israel and innocent civilians by Hamas and Iran,” said Scott. “It’s critical the Department of Education has the tools and resources it needs to investigate antisemitism and root out this vile hatred wherever it rears its ugly head.”

The Antisemitism Awareness Act would make permanent the Department of Education’s usage of the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism, which is a vital tool helping to clarify and identify the various manifestations of antisemitism. Since 2018, the Department of Education has used the IHRA definition when investigating violations of title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This definition is supported by President Biden’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, was included in President Biden’s National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, and has been used by the State Department since the Obama Administration. 

Lankford also introduced the Countering Antisemitism Act to take historic action to counter antisemitism in the United States, and he is co-chair of the Senate Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism. He recently made a trip to Israel where he visited towns in Israel that border the Gaza strip, toured Kibbutz Nir Oz, met with the survivors and families of the hostages of the October 7 massacre, visited the Nova Festival site and spent a day along the border with Lebanon. 

In addition to Lankford, Casey, and Scott, the Antisemitism Awareness Act is cosponsored by Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rick Scott (R-FL), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), John Boozman (R-AR), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Katie Britt (R-AL), John Fetterman (D-PA), Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Ben Cardin (D-MD), John Barrasso (R-WY), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), John Cornyn (R-TX), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).