Congressman Smith Named ‘Man Of Distinction’ By Jewish Federation Of Monmouth County

chris_smith_lakewood_tlsRep. Chris Smith, a leading human rights lawmaker in the U.S. Congress, was presented with a “Man of Distinction Award” by the Monmouth County Jewish Federation at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal, N.J. “All of us recognize that anti-Semitism is a unique evil,” said Smith, a senior member of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee and co-chair of the Bi-Partisan Anti-Semitism Task Force. “I was 12-years-old when I met a Holocaust victim with my father. He rolled up his sleeve and showed me his number. I had a lot of questions. It changed my life”, says Smith.
Smith, who is Chairman of Helsinki Commission and an Executive Member of Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, was honored at the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County and its Community Relations Committee at the federation’s 7th Annual Holocaust/Genocide Film Education Program. The event was co-sponsored by the national Wiesenthal Center for Tolerance, the N.J. Commission of Holocaust Education and the Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Education Center at Brookdale College. The program’s objective is to teach Holocaust/Genocide education through notable and acclaimed films with equally notable speakers including survivors of Holocaust /genocides, educators, filmmakers, and actors.
This year’s theme was “Evil through the Eyes of the Lens: Exploring the Power of Film for Education or Propaganda.” The evening program examined the career of Veit Harlan, a controversial Nazi Era German director, and his film, “The Jew Suss.”
Smith and about 75 others screened the documentary film: “HARLAN: In the Shadow of ‘The Jew Süss’” by documentary film director Felix Moeller. Guest speaker and 10-time Emmy Award winning documentary filmmaker, David Grubin spoke about the film before the screening and fielded questions afterward.
Harlan’s “Jew Süss” is considered the most notoriously anti-Semitic movie ever made, a box office success in Nazi Germany in 1940. It was so effective that it was made required viewing for all members of the SS. The movie played on Nazi stereotypes of Jews being materialistic, immoral, cunning, untrustworthy and physically unattractive. The main character, a Jew, unsuccessfully pursues and then rapes a non-Jewish woman, who then commits suicide. He is executed, and all Jews are expelled from the state.
 Also honored was Dr. Paul B. Winkler of Lawrenceville, N.J., Executive Director of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education a long-standing leader in the struggle for human rights and combating anti-Semitism, with whom Congressman Smith has worked for three decades on Holocaust education issues. Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ-07) attended the event honoring Smith and Winkler, as did Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini.
Toby Shylit Mack, chair of the Community Relations Committee, coordinated the event, along with federation president-elect Joseph Hollander. Mack presented Smith with the award for his humanitarian work, including his efforts to fight human trafficking, international child abductions and anti-Semitism.
Smith discussed his landmark 2002 hearing, “Escalating Anti-Semitic Violence in Europe,” as well as his work to put the issue of combating anti-Semitism at the top of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) agenda, which resulted in the OSCE adopting new norms for its 56 member states on fighting anti-Semitism in 2004, and a series of high-level conferences on combating anti-Semitism. Smith also spoke of his first encounter with a Holocaust survivor, how he chaired Congress’s first hearings on anti-Semitism in the 1990s, and his first trip abroad as a member of Congress in 1982 to the former Soviet Union, where he fought for the release of Jewish “refuseniks.”
Rep. Smith is the author of 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. He recently introduced new legislation, the Combating Anti-Semitism Act of 2010, H.R. 6277, that would strengthen the office and require it to report more frequently and in greater detail on anti-Semitism around the world.

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