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June 7, 2021 11:15 am
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Combating Antisemitism in Congress

avatar by Andrew Lappin / JNS.org

Opinion

US Reps Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) hold a news conference after Democrats in the US Congress moved to formally condemn President Donald Trump’s attacks on the four minority congresswomen. Photo: Reuters / Erin Scott.

JNS.org – According to a May 29 report in The Hill, US Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) is in the final stage of preparing a motion to censure Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) over concerns about her extremist views.

Schneider said that the basis of his censure is “the failure of her party to call her out, to condemn her and to isolate her.”

Multiple media outlets reported in February, however, that 11 Republicans voted with Democrats in favor of removing Greene from her committee seats. It would appear, then, that the heavy lifting has in fact been appropriately executed.

But if Schneider wishes to hone his censure skills, there remains a task of far greater significance. In a district that has one of the highest concentrations of Jews in Illinois, Schneider—who is Jewish—unsurprisingly attracted the majority of the Jewish vote.

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As a Jewish constituent, I have been waiting patiently for him to speak up and out against the rabid and unending stream of antisemitic attacks vented by Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

As Israel was struggling to defend its citizens from the heinous and barbaric Hamas missile attacks instigated, engineered and financed by Iran, the above agents of vulgarity unconscionably attempted to hold up the resupply of critical arms to Israel.

As a Jew aware of our history, I can say that the true impact of such vile behavior goes way beyond mere ribald incivility and has far greater consequences.

It has been well-chronicled that antisemitic attacks both domestically and globally are skyrocketing. History demonstrates that fighting antisemitism involves far more than platitudinous proclamations. It must be encountered, rather, with zero tolerance and a third-rail-like reactiveness—no different from the way in which racist or discriminatory statements against African Americans are answered.

When Schneider and other Jews (such as New York Sen. Chuck Schumer) who serve in America’s highest political body fail to vociferously reject these unprecedented salvos of racist derision, the absence of public rebuke has the effect of validating and normalizing grotesque utterances from within the halls of the once-cherished sanctum of tolerance and equality.

We are told that the reason that Schneider and others are unable to publicly invalidate these racist taunts is that alienating the progressives in the party that Sanders, Omar, Tlaib and their ilk represent would create a political liability for the Democrats. To which I would ask: is the normalization of antisemitic discourse a price that the Jewish community ought to be expected to pay for the stability of the Democratic Party?

Quelling antisemitism means erecting a granite wall of opposition. If part of that wall is crumbling, as it presently appears to be, then it will not be a wall at all. Our Democracy, despite its occasional blemishes on which detractors like Sanders and fellow progressives choose to fixate, was unique in the history of the world. It was built on a foundation of a core of values that reflexively abhor and reject the now-surging cancer of antisemitism. For Schneider to finally rise to challenge this unprecedented toxicity would be a true and welcome exercise in courage.

Andrew D. Lappin is a redeveloper of urban industrial properties. He is a board member of The Ember Foundation, NGO Monitor, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA), and serves on The Illinois Policy Board which monitors corporate compliance with the state’s anti-BDS statute. He is a former board member of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

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