CONGRESSMAN NADLER'S FLOOR SPEECH CONDEMING WORLDWIDE EXPLOSION OF ANTISEMTISM AND CALLING OUT HOUSE GOP'S INTENTIONAL DIVISIVENESS
Washington, December 5, 2023
Yesterday, Congressman Jerrold Nadler delivered the following remarks on the House Floor as prepared on H. Res. 894:
M. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of any and all serious and meaningful efforts to combat antisemitism. The explosion of antisemitism—around the world, on college campuses, and online—is so shocking that it was the subject of nearly every Jewish household’s Thanksgiving meal a week ago.
The Jewish community is absolutely right to consider this terrifying situation a “five alarm fire,” as Senator Schumer so appropriately put it in his moving speech to the nation just a few days ago.
Unfortunately, this resolution does absolutely nothing to genuinely counter the scourge of antisemitism, nor does it help bring us together with the unity of purpose that this topic merits.
Rather, it is another try, in a long series of veiled efforts by the GOP, to weaponize Jewish lives for political gains. It is another partisan gotcha game that amounts to cheap value signaling, not serious action. But, if ever there was a time for real action, it is now.
Today, in the face of the largest increase in antisemitism, both violent and virulent, in this nation’s history, we have a clear choice: we can abuse this moment to try to inflict inter-party political damage, or we can rise to the occasion, and do something real and powerful to actually help the Jewish community.
Just in the last few weeks, we have seen disgusting displays of outright antisemitism.
Over the weekend, protesters in Philadelphia targeted a Jewish business. It is plainly and unequivocally antisemitic to hold Jews collectively responsible for Israel’s actions.
In my district, vile antisemitic graffiti has been scrawled on apartment buildings on the Upper East Side. And, on the Upper West Side, two Jewish women were assaulted after calling out individuals who were despicably tearing down posters of Israeli hostages.
Last week in Brooklyn, three attackers violently attacked a fifteen-year-old Jewish boy, yelling “Free Palestine” as they punched and kicked the stranger.
This antisemitic hate is happening across the country. The Oakland City Council rejected a bid to denounce Hamas, as speaker after speaker espoused dangerously misguided and factually erroneous views at a deeply troubling antisemitic public hearing.
Since the Israel-Hamas war began, the GOP has seemed gleeful at their partisan wedging at the expense of the Jewish community, and they have utterly failed to do anything serious to address this crisis.
If they object to my charges, let me clearly ask them here today three key questions:
First, what have my friends on the other side of the aisle—the only ones who actually control the agenda on the floor—done to implement the White House’s National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism? This historic, whole-of-government plan, which has bipartisan support, has been completely ignored in this dysfunctional, MAGA extremist Congress. The answer is clear: they have done nothing.
Second, when will the GOP majority stop its efforts to defund the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, the office that must protect Jewish students from the horrendous discrimination they face on campus today? In order to enforce Title VI—the law that prevents such discrimination in education—the Department needs the resources to put legal and investigatory boots on the ground. The answer: the Majority still supports defunding this office, and that means Jewish students remain at terrible risk.
Third: What will the GOP do to ensure that the High-Risk Nonprofit Security Grant Program run through the Department of Homeland Security has a meaningful increase in funding? This program keeps our synagogues and Hebrew schools safe across the country. The answer: House Republicans have done absolutely nothing to shore up this program.
I demand that we take real action. Reps. Goldman, Raskin, and I today introduced a resolution that would commit ourselves to the full implementation of the National Strategy. I implore my Republican colleagues to join it. Join us and take concrete action.
And I call on them to actually protect Jewish lives by a dramatic increase in funding for the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and for the High-Risk Nonprofit Security Grant Program. That’s what taking meaningful action would look like.
M. Speaker, by bringing this resolution to the floor without a single Democratic cosponsor—which is extremely unusual—and by rushing it to a vote without careful and considerate collaboration, my Republican friends have shown us who they are and precisely what are their intentions.
In my three decades in Congress, I have voted on numerous bills and resolutions addressing antisemitism, including my own. I have never seen an antisemitism-focused vehicle come to the floor without the co-sponsorship of a single member of the minority party.
The bipartisan Antisemitism Task Force doesn’t support such partisan gamesmanship. Nor does the Anti-Defamation League. Nor does the American Jewish Committee. With this resolution, the GOP has shown themselves fundamentally unserious about combatting antisemitism.
Of course, none of us should be surprised.
If our friends on the other side of the aisle were serious about combatting antisemitism, they would have spoken up when former President Trump called the Nazis in Charlottesville “very fine people.” They would have condemned the former President when he dined with known Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes. Chairman Jordan would have thought better before tweeting out “Kanye, Elon, Trump,” sending out dog whistles to their white supremacist antisemitic base.
And they would have chosen their recent witnesses more carefully. Chairman Jordan chose to give a platform to Robert Kennedy, Jr., just days after he trafficked in antisemitic conspiracy theories suggesting Jews were responsible for COVID.
And I cannot help but note that, although this resolution strongly condemns and denounces antisemitism, its authors carefully avoided mentioning any of the obvious instances of antisemitism coming from their own leaders.
The resolution is flawed in other ways as well. For example, the resolution implicitly compares some peaceful protesters with the January 6th rioters and insurrectionists. I suppose they have their reasons for doing that.
More problematically, the resolution suggests that ALL anti-Zionism is antisemitism. That is either intellectually disingenuous or just factually wrong. And it unfairly implicates many of my orthodox former constituents in Brooklyn, many of whose families rose from the ashes of the Holocaust.
While most anti-Zionism is indeed antisemitic, the authors, if they were at all familiar with Jewish history and culture, should know about Jewish anti-Zionism that was, and is, expressly NOT antisemitic. This resolution ignores the fact that even today, certain orthodox Hasidic Jewish communities—the Satmars in New York and others—as well as adherents of the pre-state Jewish labor movement have held views that are at odds with the modern Zionist conception.
According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, “[t]he anti-Zionist world-view of the ultra-Orthodox groups . . . [like the] Satmar Hasidism perceives Zionism and the establishment of the State of Israel as an anti-messianic act. . .” This is to say that these ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jews believe that only the messiah can bring about the true Israel. And, I assure you, the Satmars are certainly NOT antisemitic.
I should also note that there are those who try to smear even progressive pro-Israel supporters with the inappropriate label of “Israel hater” or “anti-Zionist.” Under this resolution, those who love Israel deeply but criticize some of its policy approaches could be considered anti-Zionist. That could make every Democratic Jewish member of this body—because they all criticized the recent Israeli judicial reform package—de facto antisemites. Might that be the authors’ intention?
Again, let me be unequivocally clear: most anti-Zionism, particularly in this moment, has a real antisemitism problem. But we cannot fairly say that one equals the other.
As the most senior Jewish member in this House, with perhaps the largest Jewish constituency in this country, I have always—and will always—support real, meaningful legislation to combat antisemitism. This, of course, is deeply personal for me and for so many of my constituents. Indeed, I take a back seat to no one in this body when it comes to fighting against this scourge.
In the aftermath of October 7th, we have a moral obligation to act to protect our own Jewish citizens and our critical ally Israel. I pray that the GOP majority makes today the day that they stop playing these partisan games and commit themselves to doing the real work to protect Jewish lives. There is not a single minute to spare.
I reserve the balance of my time.