Congressman Smith: We must have zero tolerance for anti-Semitic hate

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), who authored legislation creating the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism internationally, today called for a senior U.S. government official to lead inter-agency efforts to combat anti-Semitism domestically.

“The recent barrage of bomb threats against the American Jewish community must be absolutely condemned and the perpetrators of this hate must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Anti-Semitism is a persistent, unique evil and every year for almost 20 years, an overwhelming majority of anti-religious crimes documented in the U.S. have been committed against Jewish Americans,” said Smith, who submitted the amendment that created the State’s Anti-Semitism Office and the Special Envoy to lead it in 2004. “We cannot wait until bombs threats become bomb blasts. It is vital that one senior law enforcement official has the mandate to lead efforts across the government to anticipate, prevent and respond to threats and attacks—especially violent ones—against the American Jewish community.”

More than 20 Jewish institutions were targeted for bomb threats yesterday, including the Betty and Milton Katz Jewish Community Center in Cherry Hill, N.J.. The threats followed several incidences of vandalism in Jewish cemeteries, including damage being reported in Philadelphia over the weekend.

Smith said, “We must have zero tolerance for anti-Semitic hate.”

Smith has long been a leader in the fight against anti-Semitism. In the early 2000s he led the effort to place fighting anti-Semitism on the agenda of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which led to the adoption of new norms for the 57 countries that belong to the OSCE. He has also chaired 10 hearings on anti-Semitism, including Congress’s first-ever hearings on anti-Semitism. He is co-chairman of the Bi-Partisan Taskforce 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.

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