By Kevin Deutsch
Rep. Ted Deutch on Wednesday applauded the passage of a U.S. House of Representatives resolution condemning rising antisemitism in America.
The resolution, which calls on elected officials, faith leaders, and civil society leaders to use their bully pulpit to “condemn and combat” the ancient form of hatred, was sponsored by South Florida congresswoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Passage of the bill comes amid a surge in antisemitic hate crimes and incidents both locally and nationally.
“Today, in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month, I was proud to stand with my colleagues in the House chamber in solidarity with the American Jewish community and against the scourge of antisemitism in this country,” said Deutch, who represents Coral Springs and Parkland. “I am proud to be Jewish and proud to be an advocate for my community in Congress.”
Deutch, who co-chairs the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism, has said he is giving up his House seat later this year to become Chief Executive of the American Jewish Committee, an institution that plays a crucial role in fighting antisemitism.
A recent survey of American Jews and the general public’s perceptions of antisemitism revealed that 24 percent of American Jews had been personally targeted by antisemitism in the past 12 months, and four in 10 American Jews changed their behavior at least once out of fear of antisemitism, and 90 percent believe antisemitism is a problem in the U.S.
The Anti-Defamation League’s 2021 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents in the U.S. recorded 2,717 acts of assault, vandalism, and harassment during the past year, an average of more than seven incidents per day. That’s a 34 percent increase from 2020 and the highest year on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979.
Antisemitic assaults increased by 167 percent in 2021 compared to the previous year and were 138 percent higher than the rolling 5-year average of antisemitic assaults, according to the ADL.
“Antisemitism is an insidious form of prejudice stretching back millennia that attacks the humanity of the Jewish people and has led to violence, destruction of lives and communities, and genocide,” the House resolution states. “Whereas conspiracy theories that Jews are uniquely evil and influential have led to mass killings of Jews throughout time, including the poisonous Nazi ideology that resulted in the murder of 6,000,000 Jews, including 1,500,000 Jewish children, and millions of other victims of the Nazis in Europe.”
“The use of antisemitic language, conspiracy theories, and hatred has increased on multiple social media platforms—from Facebook and Instagram to Twitter and TikTok—including tropes about Jewish control and messages praising Hitler and demonizing all Jews.”
The resolution also condemned Holocaust denialism and distortion, which research shows is on the rise.
A 2020 survey of all 50 States in the United States on Holocaust knowledge among Millennials and Gen Z found a clear lack of awareness of key historical facts: 63 percent of respondents did not know that 6 million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, and 36 percent thought that ‘‘two million or fewer Jews’’ were killed.
“Jews are increasingly affected by the grotesque spread of misinformation and lies including blame for the spread of COVID–19, false claims including the control of the media and the financial system, accusations of dual loyalty, and a multitude of negative stereotypes,” the resolution states.
Deutch said the rising climate of antisemitism is “dangerous” and “poses a growing threat to not only the Jewish community but to all of our communities around our country.”
“Over seven antisemitic incidents took place each day in 2021,” he said. “Each one of those incidents frayed the edges of our democracy because when antisemitism is allowed to propagate in a society, that society cannot consider itself to be truly free.”
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.