Beware of the Anti-Semitism Awareneness Act

Beware of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act

By Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

May 13, 2024




The House of Representatives passed the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act” on May 2, by a vote of 320-91 in reaction to demonstrations on numerous university campuses and elsewhere against the brutal and genocidal policy of Israel in Gaza. The Act has now been sent to the Senate, where it seems certain to pass. This is an extremely dangerous bill that could criminalize the Bible, many Christian Churches, as well as any negative remarks about Israel and Jews. In brief, it threatens us with totalitarian thought control. We must do everything we can to oppose it.

First, let’s take an overview of the Act. It adopts the very broad definition of anti-Semitism of the “International Holocaust Remembrance Association.”  The Act calls this definition “a vital tool which helps individuals understand and identify the various manifestations of antisemitism.” Gardner, Andy Buy New $19.57 (as of 09:02 UTC – Details)

What does this definition say? “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed in hatred of Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” How you can be anti-Semitic toward someone who isn’t Jewish isn’t immediately apparent.

The authors of the definition give someone examples of what they consider anti-Semitic. These include saying that the Jews control the media and Congress, saying that Israel is a racist state, propagating the “blood libel” that the Jews killed Jesus, minimizing or denying the Holocaust, and claiming that Jews in America have “dual loyalty.”

As a number of writers including Tucker Carlson and John Zmirak have pointed out, the definition allows large parts of the Bible to be banned. The most famous such passage is Matthew 27: 25. “His blood be upon us and our children.” This is the “blood libel” that the Act wouldn’t let us teach!

You might object that the Act would never be enforced in this way. The American people would never stand for it! But it would always be there, like a sword of Damocles, hanging over our heads. And don’t be so sure it wouldn’t be enforced! The Scottish Hate Speech Act was passed in 2021, and people predicted it would never be enforced. Beginning in April 2024, though, it has been enforced, and many people have been fined and imprisoned for violating it.

The biggest problem with the Act, though, isn’t the definition of anti-Semitism. If it were, we could substitute a more reasonable definition, such as “hatred for all Jews.” Even if this were done, however, we would still be in an untenable position. Banning any kind of speech, whether it is good or bad, is incompatible with a free society. As the great Murray Rothbard has taught us, all rights are property rights. Everyone can set the rules for speech on his own property, and no one has the right to control what anyone says on someone else’s property. This includes speech which counts as “offensive.” Of course, we don’t live in a libertarian society, but we should come as close as we can in practice to it. This means following the strictest possible interpretation of the First Amendment. “Congress shall make no law. .  .abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”. ‘No law” means “no law” and that includes laws against so-called “hate speech.” As the great legal scholar Dr. Wanjiru Njoya says, “Jews must learn to live in a world where people say offensive things about them, same as anyone else. You shouldn’t jail people for saying offensive things about Jews or Israel.”

We need to ask ourselves, why the Act has been passed at the present time. The answer is obvious. It is to block all criticism of Israel. And Israel should be criticized, because of the genocidal policy it is following in Gaza. The US government, led by brain-dead Biden and his gang of neocon controllers, have supported Israel with money and advanced weapons throughout Israel’s invasion. Anthony Blinken, “our” Secretary of State, flew to Tel Aviv as soon as the invasion started and, standing beside war criminal “Bibi” Netanyahu, said, “I come before you not only as the United States secretary of state but also as a Jew.” See here.

Is it “anti-Semitic” to report this? One of the examples the International Holocaust Remembrance Day Association’s definition of anti-Semitism is to say that Jews have a strong influence on American foreign policy. But it’s the simple truth.

And what policy do Blinken and his cohorts support? It is Israel’s policy to exterminate the Palestinians who live in Gaza. The great Ron Unz has called it “the greatest televised massacre of civilians in the history of the world.” Under the Act, Unz could be prosecuted for saying that, because saying that Israelis are committing genocide, or comparing then to Nazis, is forbidden.

As if that were not bad enough, conditions in Gaza are getting worse. Because of Israel’s constant bombing and interdiction of food shipments to Gaza, a famine is occurring there. According to Cindy McCain, the Director of the World Food Program, “There is famine, full-blown famine, in the north, and it’s moving its way south.” Now it will reach the south, because Israel has just blocked food shipments to Rafah.

Should calling attention to horrendous news like this be an offense punishable by jail? You don’t have to be a libertarian to recognize that we can’t have a free society under the censorship conditions this Act would impose.

Many Jews would have to be banned by this standard. The eminent Jewish historian Omer Bartov said last November that “functionally and rhetorically we may be watching an ethnic cleansing operation that could quickly devolve into genocide.” His worst fears have come to pass since then. He too would be banned under the Act. So would Norman Finkelstein and John Mearsheimer.

Jews who don’t criticize Israeli’s war could also be banned under the Act. For example, some very religious Jews are anti-Zionist and don’t recognize Israel as a legitimate state. They could be charged with anti-Semitism. Also, what about Orthodox Jews who don’t recognize conversions to Judaism supervised by Reform rabbis? If they say that such converts aren’t Jewish, they could be charged under the Act as anti-Semitic. So could Reform rabbis who mock the Orthodox as benighted reactionaries.

One of the oddest aspects of this whole deplorable business is that the Act bans statements that the Jews have a lot of political power. One wonders how the Act passed by the astonishing margin of 320 to 91 without pressure from the Israeli Lobby. The sellout Speaker of the House Mike Johnson is bought and paid for. How then can the Act ban a statement that is obviously true and that the passage of the Act shows to be true?

One target of the Act is the heroic university students who are protesting what is going on in Gaza. The sponsors of the Act depict them as lawbreakers who need to be suppressed to preserve “law and order”, but students protests against criminal wars are part of the American tradition. Student protests against LBJ’s criminal war against Vietnam helped bring down his presidency. Libertarians and all other lovers of freedom should never forget that we are anti-war. Cushatt, Michele Best Price: $11.96 Buy New $11.88 (as of 09:07 UTC – Details)

Of course the neocons behind the Act don’t see matters this way. These days, students often learn about news through social media platforms like TikTok. Many students learned about what was going on in Gaza though discussions on that platform, and because of this, the neocons in Congress voted to force TikTok’s parent company to sell it within 270 days; if not, it will be banned in America. As Dr. Ron Paul notes, “ The head of the Anti-Defamation League was actually caught on tape complaining about the “TikTok problem.’”

When we talk about the neocons, we should never forget that they got us into the disastrous invasion of Iraq under George W. Bush. The US government killed a million people –half of them children thanks to the US starvation blockade — and cost us trillions of dollars. Despite this—or maybe because of it—neocons like Robert Kagan still praise the Iraq war today. This is the sort of person behind the Act.

In my opinion, the evidence for Israeli genocide is overwhelming, and those who want to ban people from saying so are calling for a ban on the truth. But suppose you disagree. You should still oppose the Act. As John Stuart Mill said in his great On Liberty (1859): “But the peculiar evil of silencing an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race;. . .those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”

The great Albert Jay Nock said about censorship that “this degrading enervation of a whole people is rather a heavy offset to the benefits gained by a policy of expediency.”

You shouldn’t be surprised that neocons like Kagan smear this great libertarian and anti-war crusader as an anti-Semite.

We should take the opportunity provided by the Act to engage in a full and frank discussion of American foreign policy. Why are we supplying billions of dollars in aid to a country engaging in genocide? Why are we supporting Ukraine in a war against Russia that could lead to a thermonuclear war? What groups benefit from these policies? By the way, if you are looking for real anti-Semites, you should start with the pro-Nazi Azov Brigade backing the tyrannical dictatorship of Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Let’s do everything we can to get rid of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act and to return to our traditional foreign policy of non-intervention, following the guidance of Dr. Ron Paul and Murray Rothbard.