Eager to Court Jews (and Fracture Democrats), Republicans Push Bills on Anti-Semitism

merlin_151669830_e3737230-1798-4746-acaa-e4d193d7081a-jumbo (1)Source: The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Democrats hoped to put their wrenching intraparty debate over anti-Semitism to rest when they passed a catchall antibigotry resolution in the House this month, but Senate Republicans, eager to court American Jews outraged by the rise of anti-Semitism, have other plans.

Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, is backing two new bills timed to be trumpeted at this week’s annual meeting in Washington of the largest pro-Israel advocacy group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Mr. McConnell has already passed a measure this year giving local and state governments the authority to break ties with companies that boycott or divest from Israel.

The actions are part of a larger political strategy aimed, in part, at showing that Republicans are more willing to directly tackle anti-Semitic hate speech and anti-Israel language than divided Democrats in the lower chamber, Republican aides and operatives said. But hate speech has hardly been a longtime cause célèbre for the Republican Party, whose members have opposed efforts to expand similar protections to victims of discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.

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