Fact Check

US House Bill Proposes Sending Pro-Palestine College Demonstrators to Gaza?

The proposed bill stipulates a minimum of six months of community service in Gaza for those convicted.

Published May 13, 2024

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Claim:
A U.S. House Bill introduced by Republicans in May 2024 proposed sending people convicted of unlawful campus activity on or after Oct. 7, 2023, to provide community service in Gaza.
Context

As of this writing, it is highly unlikely the bill will become a law. Even if the bill made it through the House — which currently holds a slim Republican majority — it is almost certain to die in the Democrat-controlled Senate. If passed, the bill would broadly require offenders to spend a minimum of six months doing community service in Gaza, according to U.S. Rep. Andy Ogles, R-Tenn., who introduced the bill. As of this writing, no text for the bill is available.

On May 8, 2024,?U.S. Rep. Andy Ogles, R-Tenn., introduced a bill, dubbed the "Antisemitism Community Service Act," that would require those "convicted of unlawful activity on the campus of an institution of higher education beginning on and after October 7, 2023, to provide community service in Gaza."

While the bill does not specifically mention unlawful activity relating to pro-Palestine activism, its mention of Oct. 7, 2023, references the date of an attack on Israel by the militant Islamic group Hamas that killed approximately 1,200 Israelis. Since that date, as of this writing, Israel's declared war on Hamas has killed more than 30,000 people and injured 72,889 in Gaza, according to the United Nations.

Following marches, sit-ins, and other global protests calling for a ceasefire in Gaza among other demands since Oct. 7, 2023, a wave of global university campus encampments began on April 17, 2024, at Columbia University. The Columbia encampment was organized by students — in a move reminiscent of the anti-war movement staged by students protesting the Vietnam War in the 1960s — and primarily called for transparency and divestment of any of Columbia's financial ties to Israel, among other aims.

University campus encampments spread across the U.S. as well as to Canada, the U.K., Austria, the Netherlands, France, Australia, Lebanon, and Japan, as of this writing, resulting in widespread unrest and arrests.

If H.R. 8321?(archived here) — which Reps. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., and Randy K. Weber, R-Texas., co-sponsored — passed and was signed into law, it would mean that the U.S. government would send those convicted of these unspecified unlawful activities to Gaza to complete a minimum of six months of "community service."?The full text of the bill was unavailable, as of this writing.

However, it is highly unlikely the bill will become a law. According to bill tracking site govtrack.us, the bill has only a 2% chance of becoming a law. Even if the bill made it through the House — which currently holds a slim Republican majority — it is almost certain to die in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

"Students have abandoned their classes to harass other students and disrupt campus-wide activities, including university commencement ceremonies nationwide. Enough is enough," Ogles told Fox News Digital?on May 8, referring to the bill. "This is the 'I'll give you something to really cry about' bill?" one X user commented.

Multiple X users responded to the bill's introduction with outrage, with one user claiming that the bill would send "American students to be slaughtered in Gaza by Israel for misbehaving."

H.R. 8321 was introduced alongside another bill, H.R. 8322 [archived here], which would "revoke visas of certain aliens for rioting or unlawful protests, and for other purposes." The full text for this bill also was not available, as of this writing. "It's time to send a clear message to foreign, Hamas-sympathizing students rioting: if you bring chaos to our universities, you can study abroad somewhere else," Ogles said to conservative media outlet The Daily Caller. "Might I recommend Iran, Qatar, or Gaza? They seem more your speed."

Ogles has previously been in hot water for comments he made in February 2024 regarding deaths of Palestinian children. In response to an activist telling Ogles: "I've seen the footage of shredded children's bodies, that's my taxpayer dollars going to bomb those kids," he responded with: "You know what, I think we should kill them all, if that makes you feel better. Everybody in Hamas."

Sources

Elkind, Elizabeth. 'College Anti-Israel Agitators Could Be Sent to Gaza under New House GOP Bill'.?Fox News, 8 May 2024, https://www.foxnews.com/politics/college-anti-israel-agitators-sent-gaza-new-house-gop-bill.

EXCLUSIVE: House Republicans Introduce Legislation To Send Hamas-Sympathizing Student Visa Holders Home. https://dailycaller.com/2024/05/08/exclusive-house-republicans-introduce-legislation-to-send-hamas-sympathizing-student-visa-holders-home/. Accessed 10 May 2024.

'Https://Twitter.Com/JackFought_1/Status/1788322958781395079'.?X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/JackFought_1/status/1788322958781395079. Accessed 9 May 2024.

'Https://Twitter.Com/LaurenWitzkeDE/Status/1788514478134280373'.?X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/LaurenWitzkeDE/status/1788514478134280373. Accessed 9 May 2024.

Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/p/C5RRohwuNHn/?hl=en&img_index=1. Accessed 10 May 2024.

O'Keefe, Ross.?Republican House Members Suggest Laws Sending Campus Protesters to Gaza - Washington Examiner. 8 May 2024, https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/house/2996499/republican-house-members-suggest-laws-sending-campus-protesters-to-gaza/.

Press, The Associated. 'Timeline of the Nationwide Protest Movement That Began at Columbia University'.?WDSU, 7 May 2024, https://www.wdsu.com/article/timeline-of-nationwide-college-protest-movement/60721275.

'Pro-Palestinian Campus Protests Are Going Global'.?NBC News, 3 May 2024, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/global-protests-pro-palestinian-college-campus-encampments-rcna150158.

'Protesters Are Calling on Universities to Divest from Israel. Here's What That Means'.?TIME, 2 May 2024, https://time.com/6974063/divestment-explained-campus-protest-israel/.

Reid, Scotty T. 'US Congressman Andy Ogles Stirs Outrage with Gaza Comment – "Kill Them All"'.?Al Jazeera, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/2/21/us-congressman-andy-ogles-stirs-outrage-with-gaza-comment-kill-them-all. Accessed 9 May 2024.

Semley, John. '"Police Raids Are Nothing New": Student Protesters from 1960s See History Repeating Itself'.?The Guardian, 10 May 2024.?The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/article/2024/may/10/vietnam-war-gaza-campus-protests.

'To Require Person Convicted of Unlawful Activity on the Campus of an Institution of Higher Education Beginning on and after October 7, 2023, to Provide Community Service in Gaza. (H.R. 8321)'.?GovTrack.Us, https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/118/hr8321. Accessed 10 May 2024.

Taija PerryCook is a Seattle-based journalist who previously worked for?the PNW news site Crosscut and the Jordan Times in Amman.