US House unanimously condemns swell of anti-Semitism in Europe, Middle East

By
September 19, 2014 22:18

The resolution calls on the State Department to "maintain combating anti-Semitism as a United States foreign policy priority."




Parisians burn an Israeli flag

Parisians burn an Israeli flag. (photo credit:REUTERS)

NEW YORK - The House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution on Thursday night condemning the surfacing of broad anti-Semitism worldwide, and in Europe especially this summer throughout the Gaza conflict.

The resolution, written by congressmen Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Peter Roskam (R-IL), Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Kay Granger (R-TX), calls on the State Department to "maintain combating anti-Semitism as a United States foreign policy priority."

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Citing a recent survey released in May by the Anti-Defamation League, the entire House agreed: its finding that 74 percent of those surveyed in the Middle East hold anti-Semitic views is "stunning." In Europe, 26 percent of those surveyed held similar views.

"When you criticize the policies of the Israeli government for this or that, that's one thing," Nadler said in a phone call with The Jerusalem Post. "The fact is they've conflated this for sixty years or more."


Nadler said the Obama administration saw and supported the resolution before its passage.

"I think they will do everything they can," he continued. "They have been active in this."

The administration welcomed the bill publicly on Friday, in a statement to the Post.

"We deeply appreciate Congress’ attention to this issue of great importance," State Department spokesperson Chanan Weissman said. "Monitoring and combating anti-Semitism has been and will remain a critical foreign policy priority of the United States government."

US Secretary of State John Kerry hosted Jewish leaders earlier this month to discuss the summer's discontent, expressing "deep concern" over the prevalence of such attacks in recent months.

The list of the condemnations runs long in this House resolution, cataloguing a host of attacks, rallies and acts of vandalism that gripped Europe throughout Israel's campaign against Hamas in Gaza through fifty tense days of summer.

"During Israel’s 2014 Operation Protective Edge aiming to stem the rocket fire and terrorist infiltrations by Hamas," the resolution reads, "Jews and Jewish institutions and property were attacked in Europe and elsewhere, including attempts to invade a synagogue in Paris, fire-bombings of synagogues in France and Germany, assaults on Jewish individuals, and swastikas spray-painted in a heavily Jewish area of London and also in Rome’s historic Jewish quarter."

The House also condemned the popularized comparison of Israeli governance to Nazism, and an environment throughout the European continent that has forced many Jewish families to conceal their religious identity.

Various tools at the State Department's disposal, including its envoy to the Organization of Islamic Conference, participation in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and its special envoy on the issue of anti-Semitism Ira Forman should be fully utilized, and redouble their efforts, the resolution determined.

The members also laud the governments in Paris, Berlin and Rome for their outspoken condemnation of the rise in hateful speech and actions. German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a rally in Berlin last week insisting that anti-Semitism had no place in Europe, particularly in her country.

Jewish leaders in Washington applauded the resolution on Friday morning.

"Through our work with Holocaust survivors and other vulnerable populations, we at Jewish Federations have seen firsthand the importance of fighting against anti-Semitism in our communities," said William Daroff, senior vice president for public policy and the director of the Washington office for Jewish Federations. "The past few months have made it clear to all that we live in a dangerous time, and it is comforting to know that the Jewish community has the unqualified support of our Congressional leaders."

On Friday, David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, briefed a dozen key House members on the anti-Semitic surge, on AJC's efforts to combat it and on what else can be done from Capitol Hill.

"We are present, working with government officials, civil society representatives, and Jewish community leaders to energetically counter this surging tide of hatred that threatens not only Jews, but, make no mistake about it, the very fabric of the democratic societies where they live," Harris said.

The National Jewish Democratic Council, Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Rabbinical Assembly also hailed its passage.

"We have been alarmed," Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, said in a statement. "We will continue work alongside the State Department... to oppose all efforts to prevent any members of our international community from freely exercising their religion without fear of prosecution or violence.”

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