Targeting antisemitism in Europe, Congress recognizes problems at home

Over the course of 2016, parallel to the presidential elections, antisemitic rhetoric was on the rise.

November 21, 2016 19:15
1 minute read.
US Senate

The US Senate chambers. (photo credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON – Two senators introduced a bill on Thursday that would compel the State Department to act more aggressively against rising antisemitism in Europe, following on action in the House.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Democrat Tim Kaine of Virginia introduced the bill, formally known as the “Combating European Anti-Semitism Act,” in a bipartisan gesture of support for the initiative.

The bill requires Foggy Bottom to report on antisemitic incidents occurring across Europe with greater frequency and more thoroughly and to increase its updates to Congress on what the department is doing to help European partners in their efforts to combat the scourge.

As concern has grown over this trend in Europe, Jewish and civil rights groups in the United States are sounding the alarm over a similar phenomenon here at home. While this particular bill dictates State Department reporting procedures in Europe, Kaine, in introducing the bill, acknowledged the problem as increasingly familiar.

“I am alarmed by the steady increase in antisemitism we’re witnessing in America and Europe,” said Kaine, who ran as Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate this year. “We must be vigilant in reporting any incidents of antisemitism to ensure the safety, security and inalienable rights of Jewish communities.”

At its conference last week held in New York, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, warned that antisemitism is worse for American Jews than it has been since the 1930s. His organization has conducted studies over the course of the year that have found an increase in antisemitic rhetoric and activity that tracked closely with the 2016 presidential campaign.

“The legislation that we introduced last week is obviously related to the State Department’s reporting, and that focus is obviously overseas,” one Rubio aide told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

“But this is an issue that the senator cares about, no matter where it is.”

The bill was introduced first in October in the House, also on a bipartisan basis, by representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Kay Granger (R-TX), Steve Israel (D-NY), Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL).

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