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Op-Ed: Rep. Zeldin: The Rising Tide Of Anti-Semitism

The recent threats and property crimes targeting institutions and symbols of Jewish faith demonstrate that the rising tide of anti-Semitism in the United States and globally must be combatted forcefully and decisively. While the tragedy of the Holocaust happened decades ago, we still feel the effects of its hatred and intolerance. Anti-Semitism, terror, and racism must be fought and vanquished in every form; we can never do enough to put an end to prejudice, both within our nation and around the globe.

Our First Amendment protects Freedom of Religion and is one of our most precious liberties. When Americans are threatened with violence because of their free expression it is not only reprehensible, but unconstitutional as well. This liberty is a cornerstone of our freedom as Americans.

Recently, a number of Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) nationally have been targeted with anonymous bomb threats made by telephone and email. These threats targeted a Long Island JCC as recently as this past week. These centers are meant to be havens where families can come to enjoy social, recreational, and educational activities, while continuing to develop their Jewish faith with members of the community in a safe and comfortable environment. Many Jewish children receive schooling in these facilities; as a parent, the thought that any child may be threatened with violence because of their faith is absolutely sickening.

Additionally, there have been a number of incidents in the United States and abroad in recent weeks, months and years where sacred religious symbols have been destroyed with the intention of intimidating Jewish Americans. Jewish cemeteries, for example, in the United States and in other countries around the world are being desecrated. I recently sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and FBI Director James Comey, regarding the increasing number of anti-Semitic acts, which you can read here. In the letter, I asked that, in light of these shameful attacks, the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice update Congress as to which specific steps are being taken to identify and prosecute those who would perpetrate these crimes against the American Jewish community.

Anti-Semitism is rearing it’s ugly head on college campuses with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, and in foreign countries and companies trying to harm the Israeli economy today. Anti-Semitism is rising at the United Nations as well where the Security Council recently passed a resolution seeking to ethnically cleanse Judea and Samaria and East Jerusalem. For the first time ever, the United Nations formally declared it a violation of international law for Jews to live in this area, which is the same land that the Macabees lived on, prayed, and fought for freedom. It is that fight celebrated on Hanukkah, which started just one day after the United Nations Security Council passed their anti-Jewish, anti-Israel resolution.

Israel, our greatest friend and ally, is surrounded by terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and ISIS that would like nothing more than to wipe Israel off the map. Israel is a beacon of liberty and freedom in a very dark region of the world, and we as a nation must do everything we can to protect our ally and the Israeli people from these disparaging, divisive and dangerous tactics that threaten both their national security and ours.

There must be zero tolerance for anti-Semitism in any form at home or abroad.

Congressman Lee Zeldin represents the First Congressional District of New York. In Congress, Rep. Zeldin serves as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Co-Chairman of the House Republican Israel Caucus. He is one of only two Jewish Republicans in Congress.