PARAMUS, NJ – Today, July 23, 2019, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), U.S. Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism Elan Carr, local elected officials, and members of Jewish community groups called for comprehensive support in combating anti-Semitism in New Jersey, throughout the United States, and abroad.
New Jersey was ranked third in the nation in anti-Semitic incidents in 2018 by the Anti-Defamation League. Gottheimer, Carr, and others spoke about growing anti-Semitism worldwide and ways that Congress and the State Department are working together to address this ongoing domestic and international issue.
Gottheimer, at the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, also highlighted ongoing work in Congress to support a two state solution and oppose the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, or BDS, movement targeting Israel. Today, the House will vote today on an unprecedented bipartisan resolution opposing the global BDS movement targeting Israel. The bipartisan legislation has 346 co-sponsors.
“We are also here today because the increase in anti-Semitic incidents here at home also mimics an alarming, larger worldwide trend. To put it lightly, I think it’s fair to say that we are living in tumultuous times. Anti-Semitism is on rise here at home and around the world,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “We rededicate ourselves to addressing this scourge, in all its forms – to never forget, but more: To never accept – never accept hatred, bigotry and anti-Semitism in all its forms. That is why I have spoken out so strongly here in my community and, repeatedly, in the halls of Congress. Because one-off incidents become trends which turn into accepted behavior, and, if we are not vigilant, turn even more evil and violent.”
Gottheimer continued, “We have often seen such anti-Semitic tropes and rhetoric when it comes to the Global BDS movement. BDS inherently denies the Jewish people’s 3,000-year-old connection to the land of Israel, while seeking to delegitimize Israel and deny its right to exist as a Jewish state. BDS also makes it more difficult to achieve a lasting two-state solution by singling out only one side of the conflict for blame. That is why 346 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have cosponsored a bipartisan resolution to oppose the boycott of Israel and support a two-state solution, and why I’m looking forward to seeing this resolution pass the House tonight.”
“Josh Gottheimer has been not just an ally on this combatting anti-Semitism, he’s been a champion on this issue. There is nobody who is more eloquent, more determined, and who leads more effectively on this issue. And that’s why when I had the chance to come here and speak at this event, I didn’t walk, I ran,” said U.S. Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism Elan Carr. “Whether it comes to calling out and recognizing the importance of fighting anti-Semitism abroad, for his support of the state of Israel, for calling out anti-Semitism here in the United States, Josh is a leader. And also, for his support of the state of Israel, he’s been a leader on ballistic missile defense, whether it’s Arrow 3 or David’s Sling, his leadership has literally saved lives. And I just couldn’t be prouder.”
Video of the announcement can be found here.
Gottheimer’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are below.
Good morning. Thank you to Senator Booker’s office for being here. New Jersey Assemblyman Chris for your thoughtful remarks. I couldn’t ask for a better partner in the state legislature than Chris. He is a champion for his constituents, for Paramus, for the Jewish community.
I am so glad to be here today at the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey. Thank you Roberta and Jason for your leadership and for all that you and the Federation do for the community.
From working with local elected officials and law enforcement to counter anti-Semitism, to helping serve and care for seniors, Holocaust survivors, and those with special needs, the Federation is a tremendous benefit to North Jersey.
I also want to Rabbi David Levy of the American Jewish Committee, for being here today, and for the great work that AJC does every day.
Today, I am very glad to welcome to New Jersey a dear friend, my fraternity brother, a longtime leader in the American Jewish Community, and, a real mensch – the United States’ Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism, Elan Carr.
Elan and I are both here today to talk about the importance of the fight against anti-Semitism, and why we must continue to oppose the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, or BDS, movement, which the House, I’m pleased to say, after months of discussion and debate, will be voting to do this evening.
The United States has a foreign policy interest in monitoring anti-Semitism abroad, and in leading other countries to address this global issue. This has long been a bipartisan priority. In fact, my friend, Republican Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey helped author the provisions that established the Special Envoy position at the State Department nearly 15 years ago, working then with the late Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos, a Holocaust survivor.
When I came to Congress, I immediately joined the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism.
And for two years, my colleagues and I have urged this Administration to fill the Special Envoy position. I have to say that I believe they made an excellent choice when they appointed Elan Carr in February. Elan and I sat on the AEPi Foundation board together, we worked hard to combat anti-Semitism and strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship, and he is already doing an excellent job in leading our fight against bias, hatred, and intolerance on the world stage.
His appointment sends a strong message about our government’s commitment to fighting anti-Semitism globally.
Personally, I believe we need to give the Special Envoy’s office all the backing and support we can, which is why I also have cosponsored bipartisan legislation to elevate the Special Envoy position to the rank of Ambassador.
To put it lightly, I think it’s fair to say that we are living in tumultuous times. Anti-Semitism is on rise here at home and around the world.
As the ADL has reported, anti-Semitism in the United States remained at near-historic levels in 2018 – ADL’s annual audit of anti-Semitic incidents recorded a total of 1,879 attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions in 2018, the third highest year on record since the ADL started recorded this data in the 1970s. And physical assaults on Jews more than doubled over the previous year.
It is why my office has been working closely with great partners like the Federation, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, and many faith leaders to push for more resources from the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, clawing back more than $1.8 million to the District from Washington — an increase of 260% percent from the year before — to make sure synagogues, yeshivas, Jewish Community Centers, and all of our houses of worship are protected from new and increasing threats of terror. It’s in our schools, it’s on campaign signs, including mine, and it’s increasingly found in the public debate.
In recent months, swastikas or other anti-Semitic slurs have been found in front of a home in Teaneck, at schools in Glen Rock, Ridgewood, Emerson, and the Pascack Valley. That matches the national trend in which K-12 schools surpassed public areas as the locations with the most anti-Semitic incidents in 2017. We have also seen growing numbers of incidents on college campuses. It’s alarming, and we must act.
I have voted several times this Congress to reaffirm our commitment to fighting anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, I’ve co-sponsored the Never Again Education Act, bipartisan legislation to help fund programs to teach children about the Holocaust in our schools, cosponsored the Securing American Nonprofit Organizations Against Terrorism Act, which would authorize investment in the Nonprofit Security Grant Program at $75 million annually.
And last year, the President signed into law the Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act, legislation I cosponsored to criminalize new threats against schools and Jewish Community Centers
We are also here today because the increase in incidents here at home also mimics an alarming, larger worldwide trend.
In recent years, we have seen anti-Semitism and xenophobia rise in many other parts of the world.
Earlier this year, thousands of Jews rallied in Paris, France, to protest a rise in anti-Semitism, including the vandalism of a centuries-old Jewish cemetery in which nearly 100 tombs were spray-painted with blue swastikas. In Europe, far right parties like the extremist Alternative for Germany (AFD) party continue to make gains in governments across the continent In Poland, for instance, the ruling Law and Justice Party sought to criminalize mentioning “the Polish nation” in any recounting of the history or memory of the Holocaust
In Britain, more than a dozen lawmakers have resigned from the Labor Party in disgust with the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and the failure to address anti-Semitism within the party’s ranks, which is now being investigated by the U.K.’s Equality and Human Rights Commission.
We must continue to rededicate ourselves to addressing this scourge, in all its forms – to never forget, but more: to never accept – never accept hatred, bigotry and anti-Semitism in all its forms.
That is why I have spoken out so strongly here in my community and, repeatedly, in the halls of Congress. Because one-off incidents become trends which turn into accepted behavior, and, if we are not vigilant, turn even more evil and violent.
A report released just this month from the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency found that half of young Jewish Europeans have been the victim of at least one anti-Semitic incident in the past year. Young Jews in Europe feel they are blamed by people in their countries for the actions of the Israeli government simply because they are Jewish.
Eighty-five percent said this happens to them at least occasionally; nearly one-quarter said it occurs “all the time.” It’s why synagogues are now behind hidden doors, Jews are afraid to wear the Star of David around their neck, and more observant Jews are told not to wear yarmulkes in public. I cosponsored the bipartisan Combating European Anti-Semitism Act, which the President signed into law in January, because of these alarming facts.
Furthermore, while most Jews do not believe that criticism of Israel is by itself, anti-Semitic, they believe it becomes so when manifested in certain ways, including 70% who say that boycotts of Israel or Israelis are indeed anti-Semitic.
Like that of all nations, Israel’s leadership is not perfect, and I certainly disagree with some of its decisions. Look, there will always be a legitimate debate about our foreign policy.
But we should refuse to accept the smear that Israel is an “apartheid state,” or the idea that freedom of speech affords people the right to harass Jewish students. We must not allow false claims about Israel’s human rights record to be accepted, particularly given Israel’s location in a region in which women and members of the LGBTQ community are often denied fundamental rights.
Likewise, we cannot allow attacks on Israel to be used as a smokescreen for anti-Semitism. There is, of course, nothing wrong with having a robust debate about our foreign policy.
But that debate veers into something much darker when there is talk of dual loyalty or other ancient tropes. These are not legitimate opinions about our foreign policy.
We have often seen such anti-Semitic tropes and rhetoric when it comes to the Global BDS movement. BDS inherently denies the Jewish people’s 3,000-year-old connection to the land of Israel, while seeking to delegitimize Israel and deny its right to exist as a Jewish state.
BDS also makes it more difficult to achieve a lasting two-state solution by singling out only one side of the conflict for blame.
That is why 346 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have cosponsored a bipartisan resolution to oppose the boycott of Israel and support a two-state solution.
Members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which I Co-Chair, have strongly supported this resolution. We believe in the historic, bipartisan U.S.-Israel relationship, because our countries share common interests and fundamental values. In fact, Israel and New Jersey are sister states which trade more than $1.3 billion annually.
We are also proud that Americans freely hold many different opinions about our foreign policy. That is why nothing in the resolution would prevent anyone, in any way, from being able to express themselves or engage in free speech. But we will also continue working hard, across the aisle, to reject biased, divisive, and discriminatory efforts to single out and delegitimize Israel. No modern democracy should be singled out in this way – especially not our key democratic ally in a region surrounded by terrorist organizations and enemies of the United States, including Hamas, Hezbollah, PIJ, and ISIS.
The scourge of anti-Semitism has infected human societies for centuries. It is the hatred of Jews, drawn from simple words, ideas, and stories, which has led to violent pogroms, the slaughter of six million Jews in the Holocaust, the murder of eleven Americans praying in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the April shooting at a synagogue in Poway, California. We cannot allow these ideas to fester, to go unchecked, or to be further embraced, either here at home, or abroad. We must continue to act to address anti-Semitism wherever and whenever we see it – on the right, and on the left.
When we let people spew hatred, when we let other countries around the world turn a blind eye to rising anti-Semitism, and we let our fundamental values slip away.
Anti-Semitism isn’t the only “ism” affecting our society – we have seen attempts to point fingers using racist dog-whistle language in recent days. You don’t tell Americans to go back to where they came from. And when white supremacists and neo-Nazis feel they can openly chant “Jews will not replace us,” as they did in Charlottesville in 2017, we have a problem.
I supported the bill condemning all forms of discrimination and I condemned the tweets.
But antisemitism is a distinct problem that transcends race and ideology, with anti-Semites found on the extreme right and on the extreme left, and even in the center. It is found among people from all backgrounds. Its origins go back thousands of years with the enslavement of Jews, the restriction of the Jews to the Holocaust with the murder of six million Jews and others. Today groups like Hezbollah and Hamas threaten the right of Israel to exist with their rhetoric and their rockets.
For these reasons, a boycott on Israel is not just bad policy but is morally wrong and furthers antisemitism rather than helps defeat it. Israel must not be singled out for such a discriminatory policy.
The recent resurgence of nativism only underscores the vital importance of the Special Envoy’s mandate and the urgency of our need to combat global anti-Semitism, and all forms of bigotry, hatred and intolerance. Because, here in the greatest country in the world, we must heed the Anne Frank’s words, “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.”
I am very proud to introduce to you, a man of good heart, Special Envoy Elan Carr.