The Combating European Anti-Semitism Act of 2017 Advances

Senate FloorEarlier this month, H.R. 672 was received in the U. S. Senate after passing the House of Representatives unanimously. H.R. 672, the “Combating European Anti-Semitism Act of 2017,” is a bill which “expresses the sense of Congress that it is in the U.S. national interest to combat anti-Semitism at home and abroad.” Originally introduced by Representative Nita Lowey of New York, H.R. 672 has enjoyed widespread bipartisan support.

H.R. 672 points to the need to ensure security for European Jewish communities, and states that the United States must continue to emphasize the importance of combating anti-Semitism in multilateral bodies. The biggest legislative change that H.R. 672 would stipulate would be amending the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to require the Department of State to include in its annual report on religious freedom a description of the state of each European country where threats against Jews are present. This would include assessments of how these countries are approaching the fight against anti-Semitism, how the U.S. has partnered with them to help in this fight, and whether education and public awareness of the issue is being sought within these countries.

H.R. 672 is predicated upon congressional findings that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe, the security and quality of daily Jewish life is threatened, and that anti-Zionism has contributed to this rise. The bill uses the Department of State’s definition of anti-Semitism, which the Louis D. Brandeis Center has supported. This bill’s language has many parallels to the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act (AAA), even advocating the use of the same definition of anti-Semitism. The AAA bill, which passed the Senate unanimously in December of last year, did not have a chance to be voted on in the House before the legislative session ended. Several states are currently in the process of drafting their own versions of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act.

H.R. 672, if adopted into law, will help contribute to the fight for a unified definition of anti-Semitism, and continue to display the federal government’s commitment to helping end the growth of this bigotry.

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