The Republican Party’s Anti‑Semitism Bill of Right, which would make it a crime to “denigrate the Jewish people” and to “perpetrate anti-Semitism” has been proposed as a first step toward a legislative effort to end “Jewish conspiracy theories” in the United States.
The bill, which the Senate will consider today, would make clear that any form of conspiracy theory against Israel would be criminalized.
In other words, anti-Jewish conspiracy theory would be outlawed.
The House of Representatives has already passed the bill, and the White House has said the proposal would “send a powerful message to the world that there is no place for anti-Semitic hate in the US.”
But what does “anti-Semitic” mean?
In a March 2 speech at the National Press Club, President Donald Trump stated that the Republican Party is “against the anti-Semites.”
This may be a stretch.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, “anti‑Semitic attacks against Jews and other minorities have surged in recent years, with incidents on U.S. soil reaching record levels.”
But that’s not the most important definition of anti-semitism.
Anti-Semitism is defined by the Anti‑Defamation Commission as a pattern or practice of prejudice against a particular group or group of people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, gender expression, age, disability, or marital status.
And according to the Congressional Research Service, “there is no scientific evidence that Jewish conspiracy theories have any effect on American politics.”
So what exactly is anti-semitism?
The term “anti‐Semitism” is a misnomer.
Anti‐Semitism is a term used by those who oppose or believe that Jews are the primary source of evil in the world, not because of anything they have done in the past.
For example, in a 2014 article for The New Yorker, New York Times columnist David Brooks described “anti–Semitism” as “an irrational, dangerous hatred of Jews.”
Anti-Semite is a pejorative label that was used by anti-Zionist activists, who saw Zionists as the real enemy.
According the Anti–Defamation Fund, “Anti-Semitic attitudes and actions were once a political weapon in the hands of Zionists but have been largely replaced by the belief that Jews have no inherent right to exist.”
Anti‐Semites have also referred to Jews as “fascists,” “Nazis,” “antiSemites,” “white supremacists,” and “white trash.”
It is an old and dangerous term that has no place in the 21st century.
What anti-Israel conspiracy theories do?
Anti-Israel conspiracies have been around for decades, but their use by some has intensified since Trump took office.
Some anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, for example, have been based on anti-Arab sentiments.
Anti–Jewish conspiracy theorists have often relied on anti–Zionism to attack Israel, including conspiracy theories about how Jews are responsible for 9/11.
Anti –Semitism has been used by Holocaust deniers and anti-immigrant activists to attack immigrants, and by anti–Muslim extremists to justify violence against Muslims.
The Anti- Defamation League estimates that at least 5,000 anti-American conspiracy theories were invented by anti‐Semite groups between 1996 and 2015.
These theories have spread from the fringe to the mainstream, and some of the most common anti-Jews are now part of the GOP platform.
A 2016 report by the Pew Research Center found that more than 90 percent of Republican Party voters believe that “antiSemitism” refers to Jews and their influence on U of T, that “Zionists are the real enemies of the United State,” and that anti-Islamic conspiracy theories are the work of “anti – Jews.”
In fact, anti–Semitic conspiracy theories and hate speech have been used to attack President Barack Obama and to delegitimize the Democratic Party, and they have been found to be true by at least two national courts.
How anti-Islam conspiracy theories will be addressed The House Judiciary Committee is currently reviewing the Anti‐Defamation Act and is expected to vote on the bill by the end of March.
In the meantime, the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is expected this week to vote, has passed a bill that would give anti- Muslims more power over their own communities.
This bill, introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham and Mike Lee, would ban “anti Muslims” from the federal government.
The legislation would also make it illegal to hold a “National Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Anti-Muslim Hate.”
The Senate Judiciary and Homeland Security Committees are expected to take up the legislation by the middle of April.
A bipartisan coalition of Jewish organizations has said that anti–Israel conspiracy theory should be considered hate speech and should be criminalised.
“Anti–Semitism and anti‐Zion rhetoric should not be used as tools for the sil