House Speaker: We Stand With US Jewish Community, Antisemitism Is ‘Poisonous Ideology of Hate’ That ‘Must Be Wholeheartedly Rejected’
The ongoing upsurge of antisemitic incidents across the US — including JCC bomb threats, cemetery desecrations and a bullet fired through the window of a synagogue — is “vile and disgusting,” House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said on Thursday.
Speaking at a press conference in Washington, DC, Ryan — the Republican leader currently in his tenth term in Congress — said, “In Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, right outside the district I serve, a community right in north side of Milwaukee, there have been two threats on the Jewish community center there — a community center I’ve been to — one as recently as February 20th. To think about parents getting those calls in the middle of the day makes your stomach turn. This is wrong.”
Antisemitism, Ryan went on to say, is a “poisonous ideology of hate” that “must be wholeheartedly rejected.”
“On behalf of every Republican and every Democrat in Congress, on behalf of the whole House, I want our friends in the Jewish community to know that we stand with…you,” he declared. “We’ve got to stand to help root out this evil wherever it may surface.”
Ryan’s statement came two days after President Donald Trump referred to the antisemitism wave at the start of his address to a joint session of Congress, saying it was a reminder that “while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms.”
On Thursday, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations praised Trump’s words, with Chairman Stephen Greenberg and Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Malcolm Hoenlein saying in a statement, “It is significant that President Trump chose to open his first address to Congress and the nation by clearly identifying and strongly condemning the recent acts of antisemitism targeting Jewish communal facilities, cemeteries and organizations across the country. By reaffirming America’s strong commitment to speaking out against hate, President Trump sent an important message of support to the American Jewish community at a very difficult time and set an example for other political, religious and civic leaders to follow.”
“We trust that law enforcement officials will vigorously investigate these heinous acts, identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice and we look forward to working with the Trump administration to turn back the rising tide of antisemitism and all forms of hate,” they concluded.
On Wednesday, Cheryl Fishbein — chair of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs — stated, “We are heartened and appreciative that President Trump gave this issue top billing in his speech before Congress last night. We urge the president to continue to speak out against these threats against the Jewish community and other minority groups in a timely and decisive manner.”
“Our public officials can create an environment in which such incidents are more or less likely to occur,” she continued. “The more our officials declare a commitment to an inclusive, bigotry-free society, the more likely radical elements will be kept in check.”
Watch Ryan’s remarks on antisemitism below (they start at the 1:00 mark):