- As Delivered –
WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and founding co-chair of the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism, today made the following remarks in support of the Combating European Anti-Semitism Act of 2017 (H.R. 672) on the House floor:
“Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this measure and yield myself as much time as I may consume.
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Let me start by thanking my good friend and neighbor from New York, the Ranking Member of the Committee on Appropriations, Nita Lowey. I also want to thank Chairman Royce for his steadfast support in bringing this build to the floor today.
“Mr. Speaker, it’s so shocking and so heartbreaking to me, that in the year 2017, we wake up day after day to read about anti-Semitic vandalism and violence, anti-Semitic slurs on Munich buses, Russian so-called lawmakers peddling anti-Semite conspiracy theories, horrific murders in a kosher market in Paris two years ago.
“And of course, Mr. Speaker, here in our own country, bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers, desecration of cemeteries. Actually, I can hardly believe it.
“And we know this ancient hatred has never been extinguished. It’s always found some dark corner in which to fester until some new group on the fringe tries to pull it back into the mainstream. And I fear we’re seeing that sort of resurgence right now.
“When we hear these toxic ideas emanating from major political parties and governing bodies in Europe, we know it’s time for action. It needs to be stopped. And this bill will help.
“This legislation builds on the 1998 International Relat—Religious Freedom Act, which established annual reporting on religious freedom worldwide, as well as 2004 Global Anti-Semitism Review Act, which required the State Department to report every year on anti-Semitism around the world.
“This measure calls for continued and enhanced reporting on anti-Semitic incidents in Europe. We want to focus on what has been a hotbed of anti-Semitism in recent years, so that no act of anti-Semitic hatred goes unnoticed.
“This bill also expresses our view in Congress that it’s in our country’s interest to combat anti-Semitism here and abroad, that it’s critical to ensure the safety of European Jewish communities, that multilateral organizations like the UN and OSCE have an important role to play in combating anti-Semitism, that we should continue to report on anti-Semitic acts worldwide, and that our allies should follow our lead and document anti-Semitic acts when they take place so we can share our findings amongst ourselves.
“We also call on the State Department to adopt the working definition of anti-Semitism used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, because words do matter when it comes to the way we talk about this challenge.
“You know, it’s absolutely amazing that seventy-some odd years after World War II ended and that decade culminated in the murder of six million Jews in Europe, in the Holocaust, men, women, and children.
“It is absolutely unbelievable that seventy years later, you’d see anti-Semitism in the same places in Europe rear its ugly head by stupid people who don’t know what they’re saying or, or doing. And it’s just amazing.
“You’d think there would be some kind of sensitivity about the Holocaust and about all the innocent people that were murdered for just the one reason that they were Jewish. And yet you see know-nothings, as far as I’m concerned, popping up again with their anti-Semitic hatred.
“It’s bad wherever it goes but it’s especially repugnant to have it in Europe, the site of the murder of six million Jewish people.
“So I’m very grateful to Representative Lowey for her hard work on this bill. I’m pleased to support it. I reserve the balance of my time.”