By Mariannette Miller-Meeks
This week, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray told Senators during a hearing that antisemitism in America is reaching historic levels following the horrific Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel on Oct. 7, 2023. Wray testified that FBI statistics indicate “that for a group that represents only about 2.4 percent of the American public, they account for something like 60 percent of all religious-based hate crimes.” According to a report by the Anti-Defamation League, antisemitic violence in the U.S. has risen 400 percent between Oct. 7 and Oct. 23.
Antisemitic remarks were projected upon the library and other buildings of George Washington University in Washington, DC including “from the River to the Sea…” well recognized to signify eradication of the state of Israel.
Profanities against Jews have been spray-painted on the back of the home of an Auschwitz Holocaust survivor in Beverly Hills.
In Minneapolis, a display outside the University of Minnesota’s Jewish student center showing the faces of Israelis taken hostage by Hamas have been vandalized, kicked, and torn down repeatedly. This action has been repeated in cities across America.
In October 2018, 11 people were killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue, and just this month, this same neighborhood was vandalized with graffiti showing “Death 2 America,” “Free Palestine,” and “I stand with Gaza.”
The football field at Mechanicsville High School in Virginia was vandalized with a spray-painted swastika.
Cornell University had to cancel classes last Friday, Nov. 3, after a student was arrested by federal authorities connected to a series of disturbing online posts threatening to kill and rape Jewish students on campus.
It’s more important now, more than ever for U.S. leaders to condemn all forms of antisemitism and resoundingly support Israel’s right to defend itself and protect its citizens, as our greatest ally and only democracy in the Middle East.
However, despite this warning by Director Wray, the actions displayed by some of my Congressional colleagues on the other side of aisle, such as Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Representative Ilhan Omar of Minneapolis are appalling and bear special condemnation.
Representative Tlaib has a long history of making antisemitic remarks since becoming a Member of Congress. The Congresswoman has made multiple comments erroneously referring to Israel as an “apartheid” and “racist” state, accusing the Government of Israel of “ethnic cleansing” against Palestinians, and has claimed that Israel is “promoting racism and dehumanization.”
In May 2019, Rashida Tlaib said that Palestinians were the real victims of the Holocaust by stating: “There’s kind of a calming feeling I always tell folks when I think of the Holocaust, and the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the fact that it was my ancestors — Palestinians — who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihood, their human dignity, their existence in many ways, have been wiped out, and some people’s passports.”
Following the barbaric attacks against Israel on Oct. 7, Representative Tlaib refused to even condemn the attacks against Israel, instead stating: “The failure to recognize the violent reality of living under siege, occupation, and apartheid makes no one safer…As long as our country provides billions in unconditional funding to support the apartheid government, this heartbreaking cycle of violence will continue.”
The congresswoman has since repeatedly refused to condemn or denounce Hamas for the inhumane slaughter of 1,400 civilians in Israel.
Further, on Oct. 17, 2023, Representative Tlaib immediately went to X, formerly Twitter, to accuse Israel of bombing a Palestinian hospital before all details were available surrounding the attack. Various intelligence sources and President Joe Biden later confirmed there was conclusive evidence which confirmed that the explosion that killed hundreds at al-Ahli hospital in Gaza was a result of a failed rocket launch by Palestinian terrorist groups and Israel was not at fault.
I condemn Representative Tlaib’s repulsive actions and remarks and wholeheartedly believe that they are contributing to the rise in violent actions against American Jewish communities. The Ethics Committee should urgently address her conduct, and it is also why I have cosponsored multiple resolutions condemning her speech.
Further, we must ensure that the history of the Holocaust and antisemitism be taught in our educational institutions. Just as the horrors of communism have been downplayed in our schools and require teaching, so too has been the depravity of the Holocaust. Why else would young adults deny the history of the Holocaust? History repeats itself should we forget the lessons it taught us.
Mariannette Miller-Meeks currently represents Iowa’s First District in the United States House of Representatives.