Bipartisan U.S. Lawmakers Call for 'Forceful and Immediate' Response to Antisemitism

'We cannot wait for another attack to turn deadly before we respond,' a draft letter to Biden reads, in the wake of a wave of violence exacerbated by the latest Israel-Gaza fighting

Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
Washington
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People attend a rally denouncing antisemitic violence in Cedarhurst, New York, on Thursday, to support Joseph Borgen, a recent victim of a hate crime.
People attend a rally denouncing antisemitic violence in Cedarhurst, New York, on Thursday, to support Joseph Borgen, a recent victim of a hate crime.Credit: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images/AFP
Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
Washington

WASHINGTON – Bipartisan lawmakers in both houses of Congress are urging U.S. President Joe Biden to decisively respond to a rise in antisemitic incidents that emerged in the wake of the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian violence and the fighting in Gaza.

At least 133 House members signed a letter that was sent to Biden on Friday, calling on him to use the tools at his disposal to "respond forcefully and immediately" to a wave of antisemitic violence, according to a draft of the letter seen by Haaretz.

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"Hatred and bigotry against one community is often only a symptom of a deeper problem affecting all ethnic, racial, and religious minorities," reads the letter, co-lead by Democratic Reps. Ted Deutch and Grace Meng and Republican Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick and Chris Smith. They are all co-chairs of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism.

President Joe Biden speaks in Cleveland, Ohio, on Wednesday.Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM - AFP

The letter captures a broad swath of Democrats, as well, ranging from moderates like Rep. Josh Gottheimer to Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

"We therefore stand in lockstep with all communities who face discrimination as they address injustice, discrimination, and bigotry," they write. "Regardless of what state or which side of the political spectrum antisemitism comes from, we must respond forcefully and immediately. We cannot wait for another attack to turn deadly before we respond."

The lawmakers also call on Biden to swiftly implement the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act "to strengthen hate crimes education and reporting by local law enforcement, particularly to identify and help prosecute antisemitic hate crimes," and urge him to "develop an inter-agency strategy to combat antisemitism and protect American Jews using existing tools, including the Nonprofit Security Grant Program."

Finally, they implored the president to "expeditiously nominate an Ambassador at Large to lead the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism at the State Department."

Sen. Jacky Rosen and James Lankford, meanwhile, led a group of 58 bipartisan senators in introducing a resolution condemning the recent wave of antisemitism.

The resolution, led by the co-founders of the Senate Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism, also called on leaders to take similar actions stipulated in the House letter, adding a call to advance Never Again Education Act and engage international organizations to combat antisemitism. Both the letter and the resolution have been backed by a wide array of Jewish organizations.

Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, in March.Credit: POOL/ REUTERS

"Recently, we’ve seen attacks on Jewish communities and Jewish-owned places of business, foreign leaders who have invoked antisemitic conspiracies, and elected officials diminishing the horrors that Jews endured during the Holocaust," Rosen said in a statement, referring to remarks made by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. "No issue threatens Jewish communities more than the alarming rise of antisemitism and violent extremism."

Republican and Democratic leadership in Congress joined an ADL-organized virtual rally to combat antisemitism on Thursday, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy all decrying and vowing to combat antisemitism.

The White House has held at least two meetings with representatives from Jewish establishment organizations in the past week in an attempt to reassure the Jewish community that it was acting to rapidly ensure its safety.

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