Flowers and other items have been left as memorials outside the Tree of Life synagogue following last Saturday's shooting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, November 3, 2018.
(photo credit: ALAN FREED/REUTERS)
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) has called on constituents to rally their congressional representatives to join the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism following the surge of Jewish hate that has hit the United States in recent months.
“Twenty years ago, despite AJC’s warnings, European leaders failed to speak out forcefully against rising antisemitism. The results have been tragic – and deadly,” said Julie Rayman, the AJC’s Director of Political Outreach. “We can’t make the same mistake in America. After last week’s contentious proceedings on Capitol Hill, one thing is crystal clear: Too many members of Congress do not understand the dangers of antisemitism.”
The AJC was referring to the fierce debate sparked in Congress by Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar’s continued anti-Israel and antisemitic comments. Last week, the House passed a resolution condemning “antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism and other forms of bigotry” in an effort to calm the controversy surrounding Omar’s comments.
She explained that the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism was created in 2015 with AJC’s involvement. “[It] works with government officials and diplomats to craft policies aimed at protecting Jewish communities, monitor antisemitic incidents, prevent radicalized young people from turning to terrorism, and educate against antisemitism.
“The need for this caucus is clear. However, only a quarter of House members have joined,” Rayman emphasized. “No nation has been better for the Jewish people than the United States. We cannot afford to take that for granted by allowing antisemitism to fester here at home.”
In the introduction to the letter of petition encouraging congress members join, it reminds readers of how “a gunman walked into a synagogue in Pittsburgh and murdered 11 Jews at prayer” late last year.
“This most lethal antisemitic attack in American history was a wake-up call, highlighting the fact that anti-Semitic incidents in the US rose nearly 60% in 2018,” the AJC explained. “We’ve been sounding the alarm about resurgent antisemitism at home and abroad for nearly two decades. That’s because before Pittsburgh, there were Toulouse and Burgas. There were Copenhagen and Paris.
The Jewish advocacy group said that innocent Jews were killed in these instances “just for being Jewish.”
The AJC also quotes “the terrifying report commissioned by the European Union and released in December finds that 89% of European Jews say antisemitism has increased over the past five years,” which highlighted that “almost 40% have considered leaving Europe for good.”
“There is an urgent need for American attention to antisemitism at home and abroad,” it continued, “and the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism is primed for impact. Urge your Representative to join this timely and essential caucus.”
The letter of petition, once signed calls upon congress representatives “to join the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism in the wake of rising antisemitic incidents and rhetoric in the United States and around the globe,” adding that it’s vital for Congress “to exert much-needed leadership. This caucus plays a critical role in coordinating congressional efforts, such as legislation and inter-parliamentary engagement, to combat antisemitism.”
The Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism was formed by Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Marc Veasey (D-TX), Kay Granger (R-TX), Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Peter Roskam (R-IL), with the help of the AJC.
The letter of petition calling on members of Congress to join the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism can be signed www.AJC.org/taskforce
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