Antisemitism Seen in Capitol Mob Poses Direct Threat to All Americans, U.S. Senator Says

Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen, one of eight Jewish senators in Congress, tells Haaretz that Americans have 'a moral obligation to put a stop to this disturbing trend' ■ Democratic lawmakers condemn violence at Capitol

Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
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Counter-protesters are confronted by Trump supporters outside the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021.
Counter-protesters are confronted by Trump supporters outside the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021.Credit: Jon Cherry - AFP
Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels

WASHINGTON - Democratic Senator Jacky Rosen, one of the eight Jewish senators in Congress (not counting Senator-elect Jon Ossoff), told Haaretz that she was "horrified and disgusted by the antisemitic rhetoric and symbols" displayed during this week's violence in Washington DC.

"The day began with a Member of Congress saying ‘Hitler was right on one thing,’ and ended with images circulating of a rioter wearing a ‘Camp Auschwitz’ shirt inside the United States Capitol," the senator from Nevada said. "These manifestations of antisemitism pose a direct threat not only to America’s Jewish community, but to all Americans who value our democracy."

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Rosen was specifically addressing a man wearing a shirt that read "Camp Auschwitz" along with the message "work brings freedom" on the front and "staff" on the back. This image was just one of the countless hate symbols that emerged of the violent mob of Trump supporters that overran the Capitol. Rep. Mary Miller, a first-term Republican from Illinois, told an earlier crowd that "Hitler was right on one thing. He said whoever has the youth has the future."

"No healthy society can tolerate rising antisemitism and hate. We have a moral obligation to put a stop to this disturbing trend by standing up against bigotry wherever it might rear its ugly head," she added.

Rosen is the third Jewish woman to serve in the Senate, and the first to be elected from a state other than California. She was derisively nicknamed "Wacky Jacky" by Trump when running against then-incumbent Republican Dean Heller, and built her public profile serving as president of her Reform Jewish synagogue for three years.

Her criticism of Miller comes amid growing calls for the Congresswoman to resign over her remarks. Illinois Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth called on Miller to resign immediately, calling her comments on "the perpetrator of the greatest genocide in world history is...disqualifying for an American elected official" and saying that her resignation would empower "someone who better understands the sacrifices our brave service members made during World War II" to represent Illinois.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a Jewish Democratic Congresswoman from Illinois, tweeted that she agreed with Duckworth's call for her immediate resignation. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, himself Jewish, called her remarks "unfathomable and disgusting" and said Illinois Republicans "cannot allow this to stand, and must condemn this vile, evil streak in their party."

Miller apologized for her comments days later, including after an explanation that her remarks were aimed at "left-wing radicals."

The pluralism that is Judaism

Several Democratic Jewish lawmakers recounted Wednesday's violent events in Washington DC, universally placing blame with U.S. President Donald Trump for fanning the flames. 

In a Friday event hosted by the Jewish Democratic Council of America, Sen. Ben Cardin and Reps. Mike Levin, Brad Schneider and Debbie Wasserman Schultz all called for Trump's removal, whether through resignation, impeachment or invocation of the 25th amendment, following Wednesday's events. The Jewish Democratic Council is also calling for Rep. Miller's immediate resignation.

"Trump incited an insurrection in this country. By his actions, he unleashed a power against our democracy that has only benefited our enemies," Sen. Cardin said. The senator from Maryland also blamed Republican leaders for emboldening Trump's false claims regarding the election.

Rep. Levin, a Congressman from California, called the events "without precedent in American history." He said that Trump's supporters "have been conned. They believe what this con artist is selling them."

Rep. Schneider, a Congressman from Illinois, said the "insurrections show no remorse and no shame." Schneider said, "They feel pride and they are in the right, so our work continues."

Protesters supporting U.S. President Donald Trump break into the U.S. Capitol on January 06, 2021.Credit: WIN MCNAMEE - AFP

Schneider said his Jewish values are at his core, citing his pride in hanging mezuzahs in his new office, previously occupied by the late Rep. John Lewis. Schneider emotionally recalled the special minyan hosted by his synagogue following the events, particularly when reciting the prayers for the governments of the U.S. than Israel. "The Jewish people have never had a better place in the diaspora than the space and place we've created in America. To celebrate the pluralism that is Judaism but also as the American ideal. I'm sure everyone's seen the pictures [of the white supremacist symbols]. The people who would have destroyed our government would have destroyed the mosaic of our nation with it."

Rep. Wasserman Schultz said the next steps will be both short and long term. "The Jews are the original -ism. You can see by the visuals as it was unfolding and the pictures in the aftermath - we always as Jews need to understand that we need to be careful and look out for one another and that we don't lose our humanity and have that thread for passion for justice and standing up for the voiceless and having the back of others who are persecuted, because we will always know what that's like," she said.

"To watch the Black Lives Matter protests this summer and see the Capitol Police in riot gear, completely encased in protective gear ready to blow anyone away. To watch them Wednesday looking like they were prepared for a tea party is an abomination."

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