HIAS joined more than 70 organizations in calling upon Congress to combat global anti-Semitism. Signing on to a coalition letter to House and Senate leadership, HIAS urged passage of two bills: one is the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act (S. 1292/H.R. 1911) and the other is the Combating European Anti-Semitism Act (S. 198/H.R. 672). HIAS asks Congress to act now, as anti-Semitic violence has increased around the world.
The following is the letter to Senator Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader; Senator Charles E. Schumer, Senate Minority Leader; Representative Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House; and Representative Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader:
November 27, 2018
Dear Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Speaker Ryan, and Leader Pelosi:
We, the undersigned organizations, strongly encourage you to do everything in your power to pass into law two important pieces of legislation on combating anti-Semitism abroad before the end of this session of Congress: the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act (S. 1292/H.R. 1911) and the Combating European Anti-Semitism Act (S. 198/H.R. 672). We believe both of these bills are important for ensuring American leadership in the global fight against anti-Semitism, and we believe action on these bills before Congress ends its session would send an important message that America will not remain silent as international Jewish communities are threatened.
The Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act was first referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in June 2017, and it was approved by the House this September by an overwhelming vote of 393 to 2. The Combating European Anti- Semitism Act was referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January 2017 and was approved unanimously by the House a year and a half ago. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has yet to take action on either of these bills during that span of time, even after a letter was sent to the Committee this July urging timely action on both bills from fifteen Jewish communal organizations and Human Rights First.
The simplest way forward would be for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to discharge these bills without delay and for the Senate to then hold a timely vote on each bill. We also would enthusiastically support efforts to find other vehicles to pass these common-sense bills, including attaching them to key funding bills that must be passed before the end of the year.
The United States has been without a Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti- Semitism since January 2017, even though this State Department position is mandated by law. Meanwhile, anti-Semitic assaults increased in the U.K. in 2017 by 34% according to the Community Security Trust. In France, violent anti-Semitic acts increased by 28% in 2017 according to the French Interior Ministry. Anti-Semitic vandalism increased by 40% in the Netherlands in 2017 according to CIDI, the Dutch anti-Semitism monitoring organization. Additionally, in 2018 a broad swath of leaders from the Jewish communities in both Poland and Ukraine issued open letters decrying a rise in anti- Semitic speech or incidents in those countries as well.
The Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act emphasizes the urgency of filling this special envoy position in a timely manner and lays out absolute minimum qualifications for the job. It would also boost the envoy’s chances of success by ensuring that he or she reports directly to the Secretary of State, by elevating the position to the rank of ambassador, and by authorizing the envoy to coordinate efforts across the entire U.S. government with regard to anti-Semitism in foreign countries.
We would also encourage you to ensure that any final version of this bill include the amendment adopted in the House that would set a limit on the time that this position is theoretically permitted to remain vacant, stating that “not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and not later than 120 after any such position becomes vacant, the President shall nominate the Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism under section 59 of the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956, as amended by subsection (a) of this section.”
The Combating European Anti-Semitism Act also makes a worthwhile contribution to this effort. It declares that it is in the U.S. interest to combat anti-Semitism at home and abroad, that there is a need to ensure the security of European Jewish communities, and that the U.S. should continue to emphasize in multilateral bodies the importance of combating anti-Semitism.
This bill also amends the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to require the State Department’s annual report on International Religious Freedom to include, for each relevant European country, a description of the security needs of European Jewish communities, efforts by European governments to adopt and apply a working definition of anti-Semitism, educational efforts to mitigate anti-Semitic animus, and U.S. efforts to share information and best practices with local institutions to combat anti-Semitic incidents in Europe.
As this bill states, “anti-Semitism is a challenge to the basic principles of tolerance, pluralism, and democracy, and the shared values that bind Americans and Europeans together.” We look to our leaders in Congress to take action during these critical times, helping to ensure American leadership in the world and the protection of threatened Jewish communities abroad.
ADL (Anti-Defamation League)
Agudath Israel of America
American Jewish Committee
American Zionist Movement
Aytzim: Ecological Judaism
B’nai B’rith International
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc.
Human Rights First
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
The Jewish Federations of North America
The Jewish Labor Committee
JWI (Jewish Women International)
National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry (NCSEJ)
National Council of Jewish Women
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
The Simon Wiesenthal Center
Union for Reform Judaism
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
Uri L’Tzedek: The Orthodox Social Justice Movement
Baltimore Jewish Council
Baltimore Zionist District
Community Relations Council of the Columbia Jewish Federation
Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council
Mid-Kansas Jewish Federation
The JCRC of the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte
The JCRC of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland
Jewish Community Relations Council / AJC – Detroit
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Santa Barbara
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Philadelphia
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington
Jewish Community Relations Council of Louisville
Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County
Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma,
Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties
Jewish Community Relations Council of Southern New Jersey
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation
Jewish Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater
Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee
Jewish Federation of Broward County
Jewish Federation of Cleveland
Jewish Federation of Fort Wayne
Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta
Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga
Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines
Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles
Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans
Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City
Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh
Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester
Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara
Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago
Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley
Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey
Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley
Knoxville Jewish Alliance
Memphis Jewish Federation
North Louisiana Jewish Federation
Ohio Jewish Communities
Savannah Jewish Federation and Jewish Educational Alliance
UJA Federation NY