On June 13, 2019, a joint resolution was introduced by Sens. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, and Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, and on June 14, it passed unanimously! The resolution is a short document that unequivocally denounces antisemitism. It comes less than three months after the House brought another resolution of the sort, but changed the wording at the last minute to speak of “bigotry of all kinds” instead of clearly denouncing antisemitism. This is a bold and necessary move in the right direction at a time in our history when global antisemitism is increasing exponentially on a daily basis.
That resolution is definitely a move in the right direction. It uses words that cannot be misconstrued. The opening statement says ” Antisemitism is a unique form of prejudice stretching back millennia that attacks the equal humanity of the Jewish people.” It is indeed very unique and history’s longest lasting hatred against one specific group of people. We need to take a close look at that bi-partisan resolution that was just passed unanimously. Indeed, we need to look at the good, the bad and the ugly! Let’s start with the ugly.
What I think is very ugly, is the fact that we even have to pen such a resolution in 2019. How long will the Jewish people have to suffer unmerited persecution before the world wakes up to the reality of antisemitism? It is so despicable to have to come up with a resolution condemning antisemitism in all its forms, just a few months after a similar attempt was made, but watered down in its verbiage. It is pathetic that Senator Cruz would even have to list some of the myths that have been believed about the Jewish people. To be sure, I do not criticize Senator Cruz’ initiative, but rather the fact that he would even have to delineate what antisemitism has done over the last two millennia.
One of the reasons why such a resolution is needed, as Mr. Cruz so clearly stated is that “Unfortunately, we’re living in an era where the need for a strong and clear condemnation of antisemitism has become acute.” The world has become desensitized to the hatred of Israel and the Jewish people. Antisemitism is undergoing a transformation, a normalization that is making it more acceptable by the masses. How long before those who fight antisemitism become the very victims of the Jew haters? Not too long I am afraid. So now, let ‘s talk about the bad.
My goal is certainly not to denigrate the effort made by senators Cruz and Kaine, they are certainly very commendable. Yet, when I read the resolution, which is almost identical to what we call a “bill”, I see a great list of condemnations that are all on point, and an extremely short closing statement reading ” Resolved, That the United States condemns and commits to combatting all forms of antisemitism.” As commendable as the resolution is, its conclusion is weak and definitely open-ended. It goes without saying that the purpose of such a resolution is to “condemn” antisemitism. As to the commitment to “combatting all forms of antisemitism”, it sounds great, but these statements almost always remain that; statements! Condemning and combatting do go hand-in-hand, but few people end-up combatting.
If and when the bill becomes a law, then it can be to be enforced with all the consequences attached to its breaking. But, we are not there and we might never get there. Before it even has a chance of becoming a law, there should be some guidelines as too how people will be penalized, indicted and even convicted if and when they commit acts of antisemitism.
What the resolution fails to do is:
• Define the difference between antisemitism and freedom of speech.
• Define different levels of antisemitism such as thoughts, words or deeds. While the driving force behind it may be the same, there is a difference between calling someone a “dirty Jew” and throwing a Jew out the window as happened recently in France to Sarah Halimi,
• Define how the opponents of antisemitism will combat it. Real fines and real prison sentences need to be clearly established to deter potential perpetrators. Additionally, the law must be enforced when antisemitism acts are identified.
By now, you are probably asking yourself if there is anything left that would qualify as “good” in this resolution? The good in all of this is that we still have some politicians who care enough to speak up. They are not the majority, but they exist and they need to be recognized. It must be noted that support for Israel and a desire to fight antisemitism is easier to find among conservatives and evangelicals. This doesn’t mean that the fight is one-sided. The bi-partisan aspect of this new resolution would prove the opposite.
That some people would recognize the gravity of the situation is encouraging, but the road to the eradication of antisemitism is long and chaotic. Obstacles such as political correctness, multiculturalism or fear of offending “anything Islam” are constantly in the way. Senator Ted Cruz was heard, and the resolution was passed. Now comes the hard part, combatting the beast in ways that can be measured before that resolution becomes another obscure number in the crowded pantheon of political rhetoric.