In response to reports that Israeli officials have found the bodies of three Israeli teenagers who were abducted earlier this month in the West Bank, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), Chairman of the House panel that oversees international human rights, today said:
“My heart goes out to everyone who knew these young men, especially their families. The death of a young man is always a terrible loss, but this is made worse by the hateful crime that ended their lives. Let’s remember them in our prayers – and support the Israeli government as it seeks justice for the victims and their families and holds accountable those who committed this horrific crime.”
Smith, a Senior Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights & International Organizations, has been a congressional leader in the fight against anti-Semitism for three decades. Smith 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. Following 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, 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.