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Widening Antisemitism Definition May Lead to Narrowing Education

The AAUP has sent a letter to the US Department of Education regarding the department’s anticipated notice of a proposed regulation under Title VI to implement Executive Order 13899 and its use of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. The AAUP urges the department and its Office for Civil Rights not to rely on or incorporate the IHRA definition into any proposed Title VI regulation. As the AAUP’s “Statement on Legislative Threats to Academic Freedom” explains, “the growth of antisemitism is a severe threat,” which “can and should be addressed under existing civil rights laws as religious or race discrimination.” The AAUP statement objects, however, to the use of the IHRA definition, which expands the definition of antisemitism to encompass political criticisms of the state of Israel, which is speech protected by the First Amendment and academic freedom. Such overly broad statutory restrictions will create a chilling effect on teachers and students, who may avoid assigning reading materials or engaging in classroom discussions about controversial issues concerning the state of Israel or Zionism.

Read the AAUP's letter to the Department of Education here.

Publication Date: 
Wednesday, November 2, 2022