Today I’d like to condemn the troubling increase in hate crimes against Jewish Americans.
Anti-Semitism has been called “the oldest hatred.” Throughout the history of the Jewish people, they have been subjected to cruelty, discrimination and violence. Even in modern times, even here in America, Jews are still not safe from this hatred. I find that profoundly sad.
No Jewish American should ever experience bigotry based on their religion. Nor should they be subject to threats, harassment or injury because there is a Jewish state of Israel. We can express disagreements about foreign policy and about conflict in the Middle East. But we should never allow those disagreements to become dehumanizing and abusive.
Yet, in response to a terrible conflict in Gaza, Jewish Americans have been attacked in recent weeks. The Anti-Defamation League has said that reporting of anti-Semitic incidents has gone up 63 percent since the start of a war between Israel and Hamas.
In New York, two Jewish teenagers were surrounded by an angry mob just this last Saturday. The boys were told they had to chant “free Palestine” and “kill all Jews” before they were beaten and choked. On Thursday, a man wearing a yarmulke was beaten by a gang of men who chanted words like “Hamas is going to kill all of you.”
In Los Angeles, anti-Israel protestors attacked Jewish patrons at a restaurant. The attackers reportedly said “death to Jews” and “Free Palestine.” An Orthodox Jewish man was chased by cars flying Palestinian flags, in another incident in Los Angeles.
I hope we all condemn this horrible wave of violence against Jewish Americans. But members of Congress can do more to take down the temperature. We should never vilify Israel or Israelis. This only fosters hateful attacks. We can talk about geopolitical problems without demonizing a people.
I remember how far anti-Semitic violence can go. In October of 2018, Robert Bowers attacked the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – killing 11. He did so after complaining that our first president with Jewish members in the First Family, President Trump, was surrounded by a Jewish “infestation.” It was the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history.
While battling the recent spike in Asian American and Pacific Islander hate crimes, we need to remember to combat all hate crimes. I look forward to opportunities in hearings or legislation to see if we are doing everything we can to protect our Jewish brothers and sisters, and all Americans.