Responding to the kidnapping of three Israeli teens—including one who reportedly holds duel U.S.-Israeli citizenship—U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), chairman of the House panel that oversees international human rights, said:
“My heart and prayers go out to these three young men and to their family and friends. The young men are the victims of a horrendous crime – a crime Prime Minister Netanyahu has attributed to the Hamas terrorist movement. The fact that other terrorist groups are themselves claiming ‘credit’ for such a sick action shows the strength of the anti-Semitic poison circulating in the Middle East and elsewhere.
“The United States should stand publicly and vocally in solidarity with these suffering families. I urge President Obama to personally ensure that our government offers Israel any assistance it requests.”
Smith, a congressional leader in the fight against anti-Semitism for three decades, authored the provisions of the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004 that created the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism within the U.S. State Department. More recently, on January 30, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs passed Smith’s amendment to the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014 (H.R. 938) – the Smith amendment added a section to the bill providing that “the Department of State should continue and, to the furthest extent practicable, increase its coordination on monitoring and combating anti-Semitism with the Government of Israel.”
Smith has chaired six hearings on anti-Semitism, including Congress’s first-ever hearings on anti-Semitism. As a result of Smith’s landmark 2002 hearing, “Escalating Anti-Semitic Violence in Europe,” he led a congressional drive to place the issue of combating anti-Semitism at the top of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) agenda, as a result of which in 2004 the OSCE adopted new norms for its 56 member states on fighting anti-Semitism, and from 2004 to the present has held a series of high-level conferences on combating anti-Semitism. Rep. Smith is the author of numerous laws, resolutions, and member letters on combating anti-Semitism. In the 1990s Smith chaired Congress’s first hearings on anti-Semitism and in the early 1980s his first trips abroad as a member of Congress were to the former Soviet Union, where he fought for the release of Jewish “refuseniks.” He is co-chairman of the Bi-Partisan Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism (an organization of Members of Congress) and a member of the steering committee of the Interparliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism. [TLS]