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Congressional Inaction on Antisemitism

H.R. 3515-Preventing Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes Act is kicking around somewhere in the House Judiciary Committee. Introduced by Congressman David Kustoff, R-TN about 1 1/2 years ago, it does not appear close to passage.

Back in 2019 or so, Congress failed to agree on a joint anti-semitism resolution because our government’s leaders are publicly divided on America’s support for Israel. I understand the division; some of our leaders are pro-Palestinian. Political debate about support for this country or that one is not a bad thing. But hate, any kind of hate, is never a good thing. Hate for one ethnic group or religion is hate for all. It is also the exact opposite of what America is supposed to stand for.

H.R. 3515 calls for Congress to agree that:

(1) Jews are the targets of the majority of hate crimes committed in the United States against any religious group, including attacks on houses of worship and Jewish community centers.

(2) Amid ongoing conflict in May 2021 between Israel, which is one of the closest allies of the United States, and Hamas, which is a terrorist organization and has been designated by the United States as such since 1997, media reports indicate that there has been a dramatic increase in hate crimes and violence against Jews in the United States.

(3) Media reports indicate that activists and mobs acting in support of the terrorist group, Hamas, and its sympathizers have incited and perpetrated hate crimes and violence against Jews in the United States in 2021.

(4) A recent survey conducted by the Anti-Defamation League indicates that 63 percent of American Jews have directly experienced or witnessed anti-Semitic hate incidents within the past five years.

Not much to disagree with there, unless, of course, you’re an antisemite.

Recently, the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing in Teaneck, New Jersey, where multiple antisemitic acts have taken place. The hearing sought to find ways to combat antisemitism and other forms of hate across the country.

According to Rep. Richie Torres, D-NY, the chairman of the hearing, “antisemitism and extremism in America are at historic highs. We are fighting the war against antisemitism from multiple directions (right and left) and on multiple fronts (college campuses, social media, and on the streets).Antisemitism and extremism in America are at historic highs.”

Since 2016, almost 3,000 antisemitic acts have been committed in America, some minor, some deadly. Last night began the observance of the holiest of Jewish holy days, Yom Kippur. Whether we attend sabbath, Rosh Hashana, or Yom Kippur services, Jews must pray with one eye open, in fear that our house of worship might be the next target.

Our government and our people must seek ways to bring our religious and ethnic communities together, as one nation, with liberty and justice for all. Speaking out against hate is one way. Passing this important legislation is another. H.R. 3515 seeks to improve reporting of these hate crimes and improve hate crime prevention efforts. How controversial is that?

America, the land of the free, home of equality and freedom of religion for all, must be better than this.

Shana Tovah.

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