28 May 2021

NOTE FROM NORM: A United Response To Anti-Semitism Now

Much has been made in recent days of the bizarre and offensive comments of Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.  Long before she was comparing the wearing of masks to Jews dying in the Holocaust, she was musing about Jewish lasers.  Many of you may know I serve as the Chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC). Our organization denounced Greene years ago, supported her primary opponent, and believes she is unfit to serve in public office.

The RJC also supported a primary opponent against former Congressman Steve King from Iowa, who had a history of comments that supported White Supremacy.

Most recently, House GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy made it clear what he thought of Green’s comments:

“Marjorie is wrong, and her intentional decision to compare the horrors of the Holocaust with wearing masks is appalling. The Holocaust is the greatest atrocity committed in history. The fact that this needs to be stated today is deeply troubling. At a time when the Jewish people face increased violence and threats, anti-Semitism is on the rise in the Democrat Party and is completely ignored by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Americans must stand together to defeat anti-Semitism and any attempt to diminish the history of the Holocaust. Let me be clear: the House Republican Conference condemns this language.” 

Republicans have an antisemitism problem.  So, too, do Democrats, as emphasized by Minnesota Democratic Congressman Dean Phillips who Tweeted: “I’ll say the quiet part out loud; it’s time for “progressives” to start condemning antisemitism and violent attacks on Jewish people with the same intention and vigor demonstrated in other areas of activism. The silence has been deafening.”

A case in point is that 162 House Democrats voted against an amendment in September of 2020, sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), and would require that antisemitism be considered as a form of discrimination.

The bill ultimately passed by a vote of 265-164.

The one-party media would like Americans to believe that antisemitism exists only among Republicans and Conservatives.  It’s a remarkable fallacy that is as offensive as antisemitism itself.

Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has repeatedly made statements and taken policy positions that are not only directed against Israel but has said Jews buy political support with a tweet that said, It’s all about the Benjamins baby.” Another Democrat, Rashida Tlaib, routinely condemns Israel, provides cover fire for Hamas, and accuses Congress members of supporting Israel with “dual loyalties. Recently Omar, Tlaib, and other members of the Squad have condemned anti-Semitism. But as a representative of the American Jewish Congress noted:

“While anti-Zionist gangs beat up Jews in her city, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was providing a quasi-intellectual basis for their actions, defaming Israel as an apartheid state employing indiscriminate force in what she seems to think is a capricious quest to murder as many Palestinian children as possible,” 

Other Democrats in Congress have suggested that the only reason Republicans support Israel is for the money.

The recent attacks against Israel have fueled an even greater level of animosity against Jews in America and worldwide.  Democrats like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have attempted to equate the terrorism of Hamas with the defense of Israel and her people.  They have found sympathy among a growing number of their Democratic colleagues in a dangerous trend that not only strengthens the resolve of Hamas, Iran, and others in the region committed to the destruction of Israel but further encourages the kind of hateful rhetoric and actions we see increase against Jews around the world.

There is no question that there is a growing level of antisemitism in America, and its putridity knows no partisan or ideological boundaries.

The real question is what will be done about it and make it clear to Americans, and the world, that there is no place for antisemitism anywhere on the planet.

Obviously, condemning the words of those who spew venomous rhetoric against Jews must be immediate and must not be couched in terms that suggest there is some room for understanding.  When adult members of Congress, business leaders, the faith community, or other associations or organizations make an anti-Semitic comment, there can be no quarter given in our condemnation.

I have served as a Jewish mayor of St. Paul, a Jewish member of the United States Senate from Minnesota. I have spent a lifetime pushing back against stereotypes and discrimination against Jews for as long as I can remember.

As Mayor, my city saw ugly attacks against synagogues. As a United States Senator, I saw the same kind of attacks against Jews in America and around the world in their places of worship, their places of work, and their homes.

There may not be much that Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives, can find agreement on today in Washington, D.C., or anywhere else in America.  But we should be able to find common ground when it comes to pushing back against any narrative which suggests that any person is a lesser human being because of the color of their skin, religion, ethnicity, gender, or anything else that defines their humanity.

The rise of antisemitism across the world today isn’t just a threat to Jews; it’s a threat to all of humanity.

It demands all of humanity united in condemning it and defeating it.