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Tom Suozzi

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We Must Combat Anti-Semitism To Stop History From Repeating Itself

More than 2,000 people marched at a rally to protest Anti-Semitism. Photo by Joe Abate.

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

Suozzi: Parkland Shows Need for Gun Reform

Since the Florida school shooting that ended the lives of 17 people, high school students across the country have served as an inspiration, and given us hope that our response to gun violence will finally include meaningful action.

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove)

We have a responsibility to help these young people make their voices heard. Congress also has a responsibility to act. There are no more excuses for inaction. Our sadness over the loss of more innocent life can never discourage us from doing what is right.

Let’s look at the facts. Over 93 percent of Americans and 80 percent of gun owners support universal background checks. Ninety percent of Americans also support keeping those who are mentally ill from buying firearms.

That’s why I support commonsense legislation like H.R. 4240, the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act. If passed, this bill would expand background checks to include all commercials firearms sales, provide reasonable exceptions for family and friend transfers, and preserve Second Amendment rights. States would also be given the incentive of more federal funding to keep proper record-sharing systems to help report criminals and the mentally ill, who we all agree should not be able to buy a gun.

Since the 1990s, background checks have blocked more than $3 million in sales to people not allowed to purchase a firearm. But gaps in the system mean that gun shows and the internet are still perfectly legal places for criminals and the mentally ill to get their hands on a gun. That needs to stop.

And while the right to “bear arms” is guaranteed in the Constitution as clearly as the freedom of speech, as with speech, there are limitations when necessary to curb the threat of violence. For example, you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater.

I became the first member of Congress from New York to cosponsor the Gun Violence Restraining Order Act. This legislation would give relatives and law enforcement the ability to seek an immediate temporary restraining order from the courts to stop someone who is a danger to themselves or others from buying or possessing a gun.

We now know that the Parkland shooter had been showing signs of mental illness prior to the shooting. It’s possible that a gun violence restraining order could have helped prevent this tragedy. This would be a commonsense way to try and stop people who appear to be an imminent threat to public safety without curtailing their fundamental constitutional rights. In fact, all those petitioning for gun violence restraining orders must prove their case in court.

We’ve heard time and again the NRA’s answer to these mass shootings – “more guns.” That makes no sense. Americans already own more than 300 million guns.

The young people leading this movement need our support. They have inspired a nation to rise and declare, “not one more.” It’s time for the adults, and Congress, to do the same.