May 27, 2021

Cardin Responds to Rising Anti-Semitic Incidents Nationwide

“Hate takes many forms. None of them should be acceptable here in the United States of America or anywhere else in the world.”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) spoke from the floor of the United States Senate Thursday to address the spike in anti-Semitic activity across the country

“Let me just take this time as the Chair of the U.S. Helsinki Commission. My Republican counterpart is Senator Roger Wicker. He also is the vice president in the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and I am the Special Representative on Racism and Intolerance. The Helsinki Final Act speaks very clearly against all forms of intolerance and discrimination.

“We've seen, in recent months, current events trigger latent bias in our communities. We go back to 9/11 where we saw the rise of hate against the Muslim community, which was translated into violence against Muslim Americans. We saw during COVID-19 latent bias against the Asian American community. There has been a rise of anti-Asian activity, bias and violence, and this body took action. Once again, as a result of recent violence in the Middle East, we see a rise of anti-Semitism here in the United States and around the world.

“I mention all that because we need to speak out whenever we see a rise of intolerance in our communities. Let me talk about anti-Semitism and what's happened recently.

  • A 29-year-old Jewish man was punched, kicked and pepper sprayed last week in New York in broad daylight as a group of men yelled anti-Semitic statements.
  • People in cars began throwing bottles and yelling anti-Semitic is slurs including words like dirty Jew at a dinner party in Los Angeles.
  • In Skokie, Illinois, someone shattered a window at a synagogue.
  • In Bal Harbour, Florida, men yelled “Die Jew” at a man in a skullcap and then threatened to rape his wife and daughter.

“These incidents are compounded by an uptick in anti-Semitic speech online. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) finding 17,000 tweets between May 7 and May 14 – one week – with some variation of the phrase ‘Hitler was right.’

“These attacks follow the January 6 Capitol insurrection earlier this year where white supremacists and extremist groups displayed anti-Semitic and racist symbols and recited conspiracy theories blaming Jews for the pandemic.

“These conspiracy theories have proliferated alongside anti-Semitic stereotypes and images being main streamed by some political leaders and public figures.

“While these events are shocking, perhaps we should not be surprised. The Anti-Defamation League Global Index on Anti-Semitism, updated in 2019, found that more than one billion people – nearly one in eight around the world – harbor anti-Semitic attitudes.

“Over 30 percent of those surveyed said it was “probably true” that Jews have too much control over financial markets, that Jews think that they are better than other people, that Jews are disloyal to their country, and that people hate Jews because of the way Jews behave.

“A full 41 percent think Jews are more loyal to Israel than the country they live in. Such sentiments too often translate into violence, leading Jews to report in 2018 that they lived in daily fear of being physically attacked.

“Here at home, Jews make up fewer than 3 percent of the American population, but the majority of reported religious-based crimes targeted Jewish people and institutions.

“I strongly agree with ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt who said last week: We are witnessing a dangerous surge in anti-Semitic hate. To those who choose to engage in anti-Semitic tropes and inflammatory rhetoric, it has consequences. Attacks in real life on real people targeted for no other reason than they are Jewish. This is anti-Semitism plain and simple. It is indisputably inexcusable in any context.

“In 2004, I had the opportunity to represent America at the Berlin Conference where we developed an action plan to stand up against anti-Semitism. Coming out of the Berlin Conference was that leaders must speak out against anti-Semitism in any form. They cannot be silent.

“So I was very pleased when our President, Joe Biden, stated this past week that ‘the recent attacks on the Jewish community are a despicable, and they must stop. I condemn this hateful behavior at home and abroad – it's up to all of us to give hate no safe harbor.’

“Thank you, President Biden.

“I was proud also of our colleague, Senator Mazie Hirono, a leader in the Asian American community, who posted on social media: ‘I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again -- an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. We all must condemn the recent surge of anti-Semitic attacks in our country. Each of us needs to stand up, speak out, and confront this hatred.’

“At my last in-person OSCE meeting before the COVID-19 pandemic, I hosted an event with my European colleagues entitled, ‘Lessons from the Past, Leadership for the Future,’ where we spoke about the lessons from the Holocaust, including early warning signs from the past, some of which have been rising to the surface again in the present. These warning signs include the rise of populist leaders, demonizing of minorities, propagandizing of hate, and the neglect of refugee protections, which ultimately became the factors that resulted in genocide.

“This month, I chaired a Helsinki Commission hearing on preventing atrocities with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide Director, Naomi Kikoler. The center’s Early Warning Project provides an innovative risk assessment tool using methods to spotlight countries where mass atrocities have not begun, but where the risk of such violence is high.

“The warning signs are there.

“My colleagues, we are painfully reminded of our past. The OSCE has repeatedly reaffirmed that hate crimes pose a threat to the security of individuals and societies, given their potential to lead to conflict and violence on a wider scale. The spread of hateful ideology and recent acts of hate crimes across the OSCE region attests to this.

“In response, I have called for a Plan of Action to address violence and discrimination across the OSCE region, including here in the United States, so that we may have more strategic and cross-border approach to addressing hate. I've also supported OSCE initiatives that address security concerns of Jewish communities, including by improving relationships between law enforcement, justice institutions, and vulnerable communities; educating communities on anti-Semitism and how to counter it; and building alliances with other communities to counter hate.

“Over the past decade, I’ve also worked to ensure that the State Department's annual budget includes funding for fighting anti-Semitism and to work globally as allies in the fight against anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, anti-Muslim bigotry, hostility toward the LGBTQ-plus community, and other forms of hate.

“The United States should be a global leader in fighting such intolerance. It would be hypocritical for us as a nation to preach to the world against hate if we let it fester and grow here at home. Like a virus, as we all know too well, if hate exists in one country, it has the capacity to spread around the world.

“Therefore, I ask all my Senate colleagues to join me in supporting these efforts at home and abroad to achieve a safe, just society for all. Hate takes many forms. None of them should be acceptable here in the United States of America or anywhere else in the world.”

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