As a member of the Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism, I’ve been helping to lead the fight against anti-Semitism and hate since being elected to Congress, as I have throughout my life.
Anti-Semitism — feeling or showing hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a cultural, racial, or ethnic group — is growing and the rallying cry, “Never Again,” is, sadly, not assured. Philosopher and Holocaust survivor Hannah Arendt’s description of the “banality of evil” seems more too likely to reoccur now than at any time since World War II.
We recently commemorated the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp Auschwitz and the murder of about 6 million Jews and millions of others as part of the most brutal genocide in history. We cannot let the evil of anti-Semitism and hate become normalized, commonplace, or “banal.”
Why, when overall crime rates continue to decrease, are anti-Semitic and hate crimes increasing? Divisive rhetoric at the national level, the misuse of social media, and ignorance are major contributors. Divisive rhetoric must be combated with reasoned civil discourse.
We must root out the misuse of social media by those who seek to sow hatred, including foreign adversaries. Earlier this month, I led the entire Long Island Congressional delegation in sending a letter to top national security officials calling for an investigation into foreign adversaries continuing to use social media and other efforts to foment hate and civil unrest across America.
Most importantly, education is our best weapon to combat and prevent acts of anti-Semitism and hatred from becoming normalized. The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Never Again Education Act. This bipartisan legislation, of which I am a cosponsor, gives teachers the resources necessary to teach our children the invaluable lessons of the Holocaust and the horrific consequences of intolerance.
We must continue to support local efforts to enforce our laws and support U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)’s efforts to increase federal funding for law enforcement and security at houses of worship. Equally important, we must each stand every day for American values. We are all created equal. We all have been endowed by our creator with a divine spark and we must be free to practice our faith, or no faith, whatever it may be.
As a nation, diversity has always been our strength. We must embrace our diversity and come together to make our communities safe for those who live, look, love, or worship differently. Ignoring the lessons of history imperils our society. History needs to serve as a tool to navigate our future, ensuring that “Never Again” is assured for future generations.
Tom Suozzi is the U.S. Rep. for NY District 3