Last week, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., the chairman of the U.S. House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee and one of the co-chairs of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism, helped lead a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to respond to the rising antisemitism in the United States and around the world.
Deutch and U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., Grace Meng, D-NY, and Chris Smith, R-NJ, led the letter which was signed by more than 130 House members including U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., Kathy Castor, D-Fla., Charlie Crist, D-Fla., Lois Frankel, D-Fla., Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla.., Al Lawson, D-Fla., Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., Darren Soto, D-Fla., and Frederica Wilson, D-Fla,
The members ask that the administration swiftly implement the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, develop an inter-agency strategy to combat antisemitism and protect American Jews and to expeditiously nominate an Ambassador at Large to lead the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism at the State Department.
The letter was supported by: American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Federation of North America, Hadassah: the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, J Street, and Americans for Peace Now.
The text of the letter is below.
Dear Mr. President,
Just days ago, you signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which included the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, to strengthen our national response to hate crimes after a frightening surge in violence against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. We applaud your administration for its willingness to confront and condemn all forms of hate; as you said at the bill signing, “Hate can be given no safe harbor in America.” As we now face a dramatic spike in violent antisemitism across this country, we urge you to continue your record of responding decisively to hate-based violence using these new tools at your disposal and take action to also protect the American Jewish community.
Hatred and bigotry against one community is often only a symptom of a deeper problem affecting all ethnic, racial, and religious minorities. We therefore stand in lockstep with all communities who face discrimination as they address injustice, discrimination, and bigotry. Recently, Congress stood proudly and in a bipartisan manner in support of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community and against the rise in bigotry and violent attacks on individuals by passing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.
Jewish Americans are also deeply concerned by the rise in physical and violent antisemitic attacks taking place in communities across the country. In Los Angeles, patrons at a restaurant were identified as Jewish and violently attacked in an apparent attempt to hold them responsible for the conflict between Israel and Hamas. In New York, a protest devolved into individuals shooting fireworks into a crowd of Jews. There have been countless instances of inappropriate Holocaust invocations and deplorable comparisons of Nazi Germany to Jews and the State of Israel and horrific signs and social media posts suggesting Jews should return to the gas chambers where millions perished during the Holocaust. Between May 7 and May 14, more than 17,000 tweets used some variation of the phrase “Hitler was right.” In just the last few weeks, antisemitic incidents, both online and in-person, have increased by 75-80 percent in the United States.
We ask you to swiftly implement the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to strengthen hate crimes education and reporting by local law enforcement, particularly to identify and help prosecute antisemitic hate crimes. We strongly encourage the administration to develop an inter-agency strategy to combat antisemitism and protect American Jews using existing tools, including the Nonprofit Security Grant Program. Because this trend of rising antisemitism is not limited to our borders, we also urge you to expeditiously nominate an Ambassador at Large to lead the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism at the State Department. While these new tools are critical, we also know that they are merely a first step. Education and solidarity are necessary to eliminate the root causes of antisemitism and racial discrimination.
The majority of all religious-based hate crimes in our country are against Jews, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Hate Crime Statistics Act report. It was only a few years ago that the American Jewish community suffered its most deadly attack in our nation’s history at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. This was followed by deadly attacks in Poway, California; Monsey, New York; and Jersey City, New Jersey. Regardless of what state or which side of the political spectrum antisemitism comes from, we must respond forcefully and immediately. We cannot wait for another attack to turn deadly before we respond.
We find our nation in a tense moment. Just days after we appropriately responded to anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents, we come together to urge a strong response to the rising antisemitism spreading in our country. We stand ready to work with your administration to unequivocally condemn and confront antisemitism across America and around the globe.