“First They Came for the Christians But I Said Nothing Because I Was a Jew…” OP-ED By Rabbi and J6 Attorney CRITICIZES NEW ANTI-SEMITISM BILL

*This Op-Ed was contributed by Rabbi Jonathan Gross, an attorney who has spent a tremendous amount of his time fighting for January 6th political prisoners.

By Rabbi Jonathan Gross, Esq.

Last week, the House of Representatives voted in favor of the new anti-antisemitism bill, which adopts a new definition of antisemitism and provides the government with a way to punish wrong think about Jews and Israel, including anyone who suggests that Jews control the government. According to our government, the way to dispel the myth that Jews control the government is for the government to pass a law that punishes anyone who suggests that Jews control the government.

Marjorie Taylor Greene believes the bill is an attack on Christians.

Under the law, if the Department of Education finds “antisemitism” at an institution that receives federal funding – which is virtually every institution – the government can coerce the school to deal with it by whatever means necessary or else risk losing federal dollars or worse, the Department of Justice will sue the institution into oblivion. This sounds great if the awesome power of the government is directed at Hamas sympathizers threatening Jewish students and causing schools to impose COVID-style lockdowns. The Patriot Act also sounded great when they told us it was for our protection. How is that one working out?

Consistent with the theme of federal criminal statutes, the new definition of “antisemitism” is nebulous enough to apply to nobody and broad enough to apply to everybody. This is perfect for a Department of Justice that enjoys selectively prosecuting its political enemies and turning a blind eye to its political allies. The bill is also right in line with the subtle agenda to gradually erode our free speech; the law does not criminalize speech, it merely encourages schools to destroy the lives of students and faculty who express an unpopular opinion.


For good measure, this latest attack on the First Amendment adds a new attack on religion also. The new definition includes “Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.” Accordingly, a Christian Bible study group on a college campus studying a disfavored passage could violate federal law. 

While Jews may be cheering on the outlawing of sections of the Christian Bible, they should not be throwing stones in glass synagogues. This past week, synagogues around the world read from Leviticus 18:22 which states: “You shall not lie with a man as one lies with a woman, it is an abomination.” That passage is also read on Yom Kippur. When the protestor tents are eventually cleared from the quad, how long before a new definition of “homophobia” is added to ban Leviticus from college campuses? 

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) slammed an anti-Semitism bill, claiming it has no “regard for the Constitution.”

With all of the multitude of federal hate crime laws already on the books, somehow the Department of Justice was powerless to prevent the radicals at UCLA from beating a Jewish woman unconscious during these recent protests. Like the BLM riots that devastated the country – coincidentally at around the same time four years ago – these campus riots are allowed to flourish by the federal government, not because of a lack of criminal statutes, but because of a lack of political will to end them. If the same federal government that is still hunting down and arresting senior citizens who peacefully walked into the Capitol over three years ago on January 6, 2021, would apply anything close to that standard to the pro-Hamas protestors, the riots would have ended on the first day. 

This antisemitism law is just another superfluous “hate crime” law. At best, these laws waste federal resources like the dozens of FBI agents sent to investigate a piece of rope because NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace thought it resembled a noose. At worst, it provides a means for the federal government to arrest Eva Edl, an 82-year-old holocaust survivor, who peacefully sat in front of an abortion clinic for two hours and now faces six months in prison. 

Martin Niemöller (1892–1984), a prominent Lutheran pastor in Germany, was best known for this statement penned during WW2.

We do not need new federal laws that apply to classes of people based on immutable characteristics. That is what the Nazis did. Ironically, the new antisemitism definition includes comparing government policies to Nazi policies. But the Nazis only became a threat to the Jews when they became the government, and as Holocaust survivor Vera Sharav warned, if you cannot call out a government’s Nazi tendencies in their infancy, you cannot prevent them from metastasizing. The Holocaust did not start with concentration camps. It ended with them. 

This antisemitism law is bad for Jews and bad for America. Those cheering on this and other new laws that can just as easily be turned against them, should remember the famous poem that applies to all government: First they came for [fill in the blank] and I did not speak out because I wasn’t one of them. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Rabbi Jonathan Gross is a civil rights attorney in Baltimore, MD. He is an attorney for the political prisoners of January 6th.



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