WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement regarding the Committee’s markup of a resolution supporting the right of the people of Ukraine to freely elect their government and determine their future (H.Res.348), and a resolution expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the safety and security of Jewish communities in Europe (H.Res.354):
“Mr. Chairman, thank you for calling up these bipartisan measures. It’s good, as always, to see our committee working together to advance legislation and get it to the House floor.
“Let me start with H.Res.348, and let me thank Mr. Cicilline for drafting this measure. Over the past year, we’ve spoken a lot about Ukraine in this committee. We’ve passed legislation aimed at assisting Ukraine. We want to see a successful democratic transition; we want Ukraine’s territorial integrity to be restored; and we want to deter Russia from further aggression. This measure again signals the support of the United States for the people of Ukraine to chart their own future. We all welcome the news that the ceasefire in Ukraine finally seems to be holding.
“But I still have deep concerns. First of all, while the upcoming elections are important, all of Ukraine’s citizens will not have their voices heard. Only areas under Kyiv’s control will be casting ballots—and Russia has a history of involving itself in Ukraine’s elections. We’re hopeful that President Putin will abide by his commitment not to interfere with this vote.
“Yet even if Minsk is followed to the letter—a ceasefire, followed by elections, followed by restoration of Kyiv’s control over its own eastern border—the international order will remain compromised. The agreement does not address Crimea. And we should have no illusions that it will deter President Putin’s aggression.
“So even as we reaffirm our support for Ukraine and hold out hope that that Minsk will keep the peace, we need to keep a watchful eye on Russia and be prepared to do more if this crisis flares up again.
“Next, I’m glad that we’re taking up H.Res.354, and I’m proud to be a lead cosponsor of this measure. With this resolution, we’re expressing our concern about the safety of Europe’s Jewish communities, calling on governments to do more to get at the root causes of anti-Semitism, and encouraging stronger partnerships between governments and communities to prepare against violence and respond effectively if it does take place.
“It’s disappointing that we still need to take up this sort of measure. But as we all know, anti-Semitism, that ancient hatred, has continued smoldering through the centuries. Week after week, we hear reports of new anti-Semitic attacks: the vandalism of the Babi Yar Holocaust site in Kyiv, the targeting of the Great Synagogue in Copenhagen, and of course the unfathomable attack in Paris last January.
“And we’d be foolish to dismiss this surge in anti-Semitism as the work of a few violent, fringe individuals. In countries like Hungary and Greece, we see anti-Semitic elements starting to work their way into political parties and governing bodies.
“This is deeply troubling. It wasn’t even a century ago that we heard this canary in the coal mine. And you can draw a straight line from early indifference and inaction to the darkest chapter in human history. The lessons of the Holocaust are seared in our collective consciousness. Those lessons are telling us to throw water on this fire before it burns out of control.
“We need greater vigilance by law enforcement when Jewish communities in Europe are under threat. But it’s not that simple. We also need greater leadership from officials by speaking out against anti-Semitism. We need stronger partnerships with Jewish communities to help them develop their own safety responses, community policing techniques, and information-sharing with government agencies. And we need to foster cultures that respect diversity and don’t ostracize minority groups.
“This resolution encourages those efforts, and I know this committee will continue to focus on combating the scourge of anti-Semitism. So thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for bringing up these measures.”