The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution with a significant majority, voting 396-23, to denounce antisemitism and the endorsement of terrorist groups on university grounds.
This legislative move, labeled H. Res. 798, comes as a direct counter to the recent increase in pro-Palestinian rallies at colleges which have coincided with the attack on Israel by Hamas forces on Oct. 7. The Senate had already voiced its position by passing a corresponding resolution, S. Res. 418.
University administrators are caught in the crosshairs, navigating between addressing campus demonstrations linked to the conflict and tackling a rise in antisemitism. The resolution explicitly criticizes higher education leaders for not adequately supporting Jewish and pro-Israel students and demands that they publicly condemn antisemitism and safeguard Jewish faculty and students' freedom of speech against threats.
Introduced by Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah), the measure emerged from the House Education and the Workforce's subcommittee focused on higher education. Owens, in his address to the House, emphasized the alarming spread of antisemitic acts across American universities, Politico reported.
“Hateful acts of antisemitism are spreading like wildfire across American college campuses,” Owens said on the floor.
His resolution calls out various events that have rallied behind the Oct. 7 onslaught, including the “Day of Resistance” organized by National Students for Justice in Palestine, along with pro-Hamas declarations by its chapters. Owens equated chants heard at these protests, such as "Glory to our Martyrs," to calls for violent action against Jews and Israel, categorizing them as explicitly antisemitic.
“These hate-filled college students have no shame and no fear,” Owens said. “Imagine the accountability they would face if they were chanting murder to the Blacks or murder the trans.”
The resolution underscores the condemnation of support for Hamas and Hezbollah on academic campuses, stating such support could lead to a hostile atmosphere for Jewish students, faculty, and staff.
Both Hamas and Hezbollah are officially designated as foreign terrorist organizations by the State Department. Furthermore, the resolution urges the enforcement of federal civil rights laws to shield Jewish students from antisemitic discrimination.
Rep. Kathy Manning (D-N.C.), supporting the resolution in her House floor speech, reiterated that antisemitism is unacceptable at academic institutions. She expressed alarm over student-led events that seemingly justify or lionize terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, both of which are driven by antisemitic ideologies.
“It is also deeply disturbing to witness student-led demonstrations and rallies excusing and glorifying … foreign terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, groups whose driving ideology is antisemitic,” Manning stated. “College and university leaders have a moral responsibility to make clear that they reject hatred, violence and antisemitism; to hold those responsible for these acts accountable; and to prevent a hostile and intimidating environment for Jewish students, faculty and staff.”