Condemning Rising Antisemitism

Floor Speech

Date: May 18, 2022
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. COHEN. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution (H. Res. 1125), condemning rising antisemitism, as amended.

The Clerk read the title of the resolution.

The text of the resolution is as follows: H. Res. 1125

Whereas the Jewish-American experience is a story of faith, fortitude, and progress and is connected to key tenets of American identity;

Whereas generations of Jewish people have come to this Nation fleeing oppression, discrimination, and persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their children;

Whereas these Jewish Americans have created lives for themselves and their families and played indispensable roles in our Nation's civic and community life, making invaluable contributions to our Nation through their leadership and achievements;

Whereas, on August 21, 1790, President George Washington sent a letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, expressing that the newly formed United States would be a Nation that ``gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance'' and that the Jewish people should ``dwell in this land [and] continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants . . . and there shall be none to make him afraid.'';

Whereas we should acknowledge and celebrate the crucial contributions that Jewish Americans have made to our collective struggle for a more just and fair society, leading movements for justice and equality, and working to ensure opportunities for all;

Whereas alongside this narrative of achievement and opportunity, there is also a history, far older than the Nation itself, of racism, bigotry, and other forms of prejudice manifesting in the scourge of antisemitism;

Whereas antisemitism is an insidious form of prejudice stretching back millennia that attacks the humanity of the Jewish people and has led to violence, destruction of lives and communities, and genocide;

Whereas conspiracy theories that Jews are uniquely evil and influential has led to mass killings of Jews throughout time, including the poisonous Nazi ideology that resulted in the murder of 6,000,000 Jews, including 1,500,000 Jewish children, and millions of other victims of the Nazis in Europe;

Whereas over the course of the past decade, Holocaust distortion and denial has grown in intensity;

Whereas a 2020 survey of all 50 States in the United States on Holocaust knowledge among Millennials and Gen Z conducted by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), found a clear lack of awareness of key historical facts; 63 percent of respondents did not know that 6,000,000 Jews were murdered during the Holocaust and 36 percent thought that ``two million or fewer Jews'' were killed;

Whereas there is a documented and dangerous rise of antisemitism globally and in the United States, where Jews are increasingly affected by the grotesque spread of misinformation and lies including blame for the spread of COVID-19, false claims including the control of the media and the financial system, accusations of dual loyalty, and a multitude of negative stereotypes;

Whereas the American Jewish Committee (AJC)'s 2021 State of Antisemitism in America report, a survey of American Jews and the general public's perceptions of antisemitism, revealed 24 percent of American Jews have been personally targeted by antisemitism in the past 12 months, 4 in 10 American Jews changed their behavior at least once out of fear of antisemitism, 90 percent believe antisemitism is a problem in the United States, and 82 percent feel it has increased in the past 5 years;

Whereas, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Jews were the target of 55 percent of all religiously motivated hate crimes in 2020, despite accounting for no more than 2 percent of the United States population;

Whereas the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)'s 2021 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents in the United States recorded 2,717 acts of assault, vandalism, and harassment this past year alone, an average of more than 7 incidents per day; a 34- percent increase from 2020 and the highest year on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979;

Whereas 525 antisemitic incidents took place at Jewish institutions, an increase of 61 percent from data collected in 2020;

Whereas antisemitic assaults increased by 167 percent in 2021 compared to the previous year and assaults in 2021 were 138 percent higher than the rolling 5-year average of antisemitic assaults;

Whereas there was a substantial surge of antisemitic incidents in the United States in May 2021, 387 incidents were reported, a 141 percent increase in reports of antisemitic incidents compared to May 2020; Jewish individuals were violently attacked in major cities including New York and Los Angeles;

Whereas the use of antisemitic language, conspiracy theories, and hatred has increased on multiple social media platforms--from Facebook and Instagram to Twitter and TikTok, among others--including tropes about Jewish control and messages praising Hitler and demonizing all Jews;

Whereas a recent example of the violent antisemitism took place on Saturday, January 15, 2022, when, during religious services at Congregation Beth Israel, a terrorist held 4 people, including a rabbi, hostage at gunpoint for 11 hours;

Whereas police departments in a number of American cities, including New York and Los Angeles, have said that they are stepping up patrols at synagogues and other locations associated with the Jewish community following the hostage situation;

Whereas there are regular acts of antisemitic vandalism against synagogues and Jewish schools in the United States and numerous nonlethal attacks on American Jews, leaving many Jews feeling increasingly unsafe in public spaces and houses of worship;

Whereas AJC's 2021 State of Antisemitism in America report revealed 56 percent of respondents' religious institutions increased security since the Tree of Life synagogue shooting; and

Whereas the rise in antisemitism is part of the larger trend of the rise of hate-filled movements that are targeting marginalized communities here in the United States: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1) calls on elected officials, faith leaders, and civil society leaders to use their bully pulpit to condemn and combat any and all manifestations of antisemitism;

(2) calls on elected officials to condemn and combat any and all denials and distortions of the Holocaust and to promote Holocaust and antisemitism education;

(3) calls for amplifying and ensuring United States leadership to fight global antisemitism, working with the Department of State's Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism and intensifying cooperation with international governments and parliaments around the world;

(4) works in tandem with the cross-party Inter- Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism to help craft thoughtful global initiatives designed to address online antisemitism;

(5) calls on social media platforms to institute stronger and more significant efforts to measure and address online antisemitism while protecting free speech concerns;

(6) takes all possible steps to improve the physical security of Jewish institutions and organizations, including by using existing tools such as increasing funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program of the Department of Homeland Security to keep at-risk houses of worship, schools, and community centers safe from terrorist attacks and other forms of antisemitic violence;

(7) ensures the safety, security, and dignity of American Jews in all aspects of their lives, including the workplace, college and university campuses, synagogues, and at home; the development of these measures must reflect the full diversity of the Jewish community in its entirety; and

(8) supports the right of Americans to freely exercise their religious beliefs and rejects all forms of terror and hate.

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Mr. COHEN. Res. 1125.

Mr. Speaker, throughout the month of May, we recognize the struggles and triumphs of Jewish Americans, and we honor the indispensable contributions that the Jewish community has made to our Nation's civic life. Sadly, we also know that anti-Semitism continues to be a menace here at home and around the world. That is why I am pleased to support this important resolution condemning rising anti-Semitism.

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, for being so vigilant over the years to recognize a particular month where we have particular appreciation of Jewish residents' contributions to our country, and for bringing this resolution to the floor to recognize this horrific rise in anti-Semitism.

Since our Nation's founding, Jewish Americans have served in elected office, from local school boards to this building's hallowed halls, the Supreme Court, and other prestigious positions. They have done so in magnificent manners. They have made crucial contributions to the arts, the sciences, and to our collective struggle for a more just America. They even had a baseball pitcher, Sandy Koufax, who was better than any.

Indeed, this resolution calls upon us to recognize the Jewish- American story, like the story of America itself, which is also marked by bigotry and hatred. Informed by this experience of prejudice, by the scourge of anti-Semitism, the Jewish Americans have worked so that the opportunities they have secured are extended to others. That is part of the Jewish religion. Part of what you do to have a good life is to help others have that good life, too. They have led movements for social justice, demanding civil rights, women's rights, and workers' rights.

This work is far from over. Anti-Semitism violence is on the rise. This past weekend, we saw a deranged individual in Buffalo kill 10 African Americans and injure others. He had a hate for African Americans, but he also said he was anti-Semitic. He learned all this over the internet, and he learned a lot of that from rhetoric that has sprung up in different places and political circles around this country. It has spread, and it has influenced people to commit acts of violence.

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Mr. COHEN. Mr. Speaker, for collegiality purposes, I ask to withdraw the motion.

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