US House committee holds hearing on antisemitism

"This is not the time for thoughts and prayers. We need resources and action," said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.

U.S. House of Representatives votes on Trump impeachment on Capitol Hill in Washington on December 19, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST)
U.S. House of Representatives votes on Trump impeachment on Capitol Hill in Washington on December 19, 2019.
WASHINGTON – The House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism held a hearing on Wednesday on the recent spike in antisemitic attacks.
Chairman of the subcommittee, Representative Max Rose (D-NY), called on federal government officials to protect Jewish individuals, communities and institutions from antisemitic violence, saying the government “must put forth comprehensive strategies to address it.”
“We cannot forget that antisemitic violence in the United States is often linked to transnational networks of terrorism and hate, including global networks of white supremacist extremists in Europe and elsewhere,” he continued. “The government must prioritize understanding and combating these networks in order to prevent antisemitic and racist violence. And, as we all know too well, antisemitic violence is too often linked to vitriolic discourse online. The government should be encouraging social media companies to prioritize the removal of terrorist content – including violent antisemitic content – in order to prevent online hate from turning into real-life violence.
“Jewish people have been coming to America since before it was even called America in order to freely practice their religion, escape persecution, and build a better life for their families,” Rose added. “Yet now we are under assault by extremists, many of whom are emboldened to act and often encouraged by content on social media platforms. The time for thoughts and prayers has passed – the time now is for action.”
Nathan Diament, executive director for the Orthodox Union’s Advocacy Center, testified before the committee and urged the members of the committee to act.
“Now, in the year 2020, in the United States of America, the children of Abraham are afraid in a way we have never been before,” he said. “We are under threat of violence as we walk down a city street or enter our synagogues to pray. Jews have faced such threats for centuries. But in the United States, even if there was discrimination against Jews, it was not predominantly of this violent kind. But now it is,” he added.
“Orthodox Jews being explicitly slandered and Jews generally being subjected to classical antisemitic accusations – that visible, recognizable Jews are being targeted for physical assaults and verbal abuse and suffering this reality in an unprecedented way in this great country.”
He called on Congress to increase federal resources for the Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program.
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said political leaders should “stop politicizing antisemitism and weaponizing it for partisan gain. The past few years have been the most challenging that we’ve seen in recent memory. It’s the kid who snaps a ‘Heil Hitler’ salute for a gag. It’s the swastikas scrawled on a garage door, and the college campuses where Jewish students are ostracized for supporting Israel. This moment is about women wearing wigs, harassed as they ride the subway. It’s about men in black hats assaulted as they cross the street,” he said.
“It’s the idea that a person isn’t safe in their supermarket, in their synagogue or in their home just because they are Jewish,” Greenblatt continued.
He said that leading voices from both sides of the political spectrum are normalizing antisemitism. “They are using antisemitic myths and tropes about globalists, controlling government, Jewish money, destroying our borders, dual loyalty to Jewish citizens, or attacking the Jewish state with the same dangerous myths that were used throughout history,” he said.
“This is not the time for thoughts and prayers,” Greenblatt added. “We need resources and action.” He called the committee to pass the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act and the Never Again Education Act, concerning Holocaust education, “so children are educated about the evils of prejudice.”