Reps. Scalise and Zeldin: On Holocaust Remembrance Day, we must commit to fighting anti-Semitism

Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and author of the book “Night,” once told an interviewer: “I’ve given my life to the principle and the ideal of memory and remembrance.”

As we honor the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday, we are reminded why the Nobel laureate dedicated his life to memory and remembrance.

Wiesel believed the only way to prevent unspeakable horrors like what took place at the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps was to make the world fully comprehend how the tragedy of the Nazis’ systematic mass murder of 6 million Jewish people came about.

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It can feel as though we’ve taken great strides since World War II. Nazi rule ended when Germany was defeated in World War II, many architects of the Holocaust were held to account in the Nuremberg trials, and millions of Jews from around the world established the state of Israel.

But unfortunately, the stain of anti-Semitism lingers.

Specifically, we have seen a resurgence of anti-Semitism in the global left. A campaign called the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) has rapidly gained support from leftist groups.  The BDS movement is designed to delegitimize and economically isolate Israel.

BDS proponents rely upon mob-like tactics to pressure those who do business, invest, or want to visit or study in Israel. Oftentimes, innocent Jewish students and others in America are targeted with blatant anti-Semitism that has absolutely zero connection whatsoever to any criticism of the Israeli government. This anti-Semitism is vile, raw hate.

Earlier this year in the United Kingdom, nine members of parliament resigned from the leftist Labour Party over the handling of rampant anti-Semitism allegations within the party. One of the latest to leave, a member of parliament named Ian Austin, said: “I grew up listening to my dad, who was a refugee from the Holocaust, teaching me about the evils of hatred and prejudice ... I could never have believed I would be leaving the Labour Party because of racism.

We approach this year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day not only as a call for remembrance, but also as a call to action. We must combat anti-Semitism wherever it rears its ugly head.

There is no acceptable justification for the resurgence of anti-Semitism, which is one of humanity’s oldest and most persistent forms of hatred. We are immeasurably saddened and angered that anti-Semitism has manifested here in the United States through remarks by politicians and attacks on synagogues.

Meanwhile, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., has made numerous anti-Semitic remarks over the past few months referencing tropes about the Jewish people, including that those who support Israel have “allegiance … to a foreign country.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has failed to properly confront these anti-Semitic remarks, while others within her caucus have defended Rep. Omar and even doubled down on anti-Semitism and support for the BDS movement.

These are not isolated incidents. Omar’s comments are part of the clear and alarming rise of anti-Semitism among Democrats. Rather than being disciplined for her remarks, Omar has been rewarded with a plum seat on the Committee on Foreign Affairs and a front cover spread on Rolling Stone magazine.

Earlier this year, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, introduced H.R. 336, the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019. This bill would help state and local governments combat the anti-Israel BDS movement. The Senate has already passed H.R. 336’s companion bill by a widely bipartisan vote of 77-23.

If Pelosi refuses to bring BDS legislation to the floor for a vote, there will be a discharge petition filed in order to force a vote on the House floor.

With a disturbing rise in anti-Semitism and direct threats to Israel’s security, it’s imperative that we stand alongside our most important ally and reaffirm Israel’s right to exist.

We approach this year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day not only as a call for remembrance, but also as a call to action. We must combat anti-Semitism wherever it rears its ugly head.

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One of Wiesel’s greatest fears was that humanity would never learn from its mistakes, but he also had hope. Wiesel once told an American pastor that watching Israel’s allies band together in her defense “brings joy to my heart. And it simply says, look, people have learned from history.”

We are confident that we will not let history repeat itself, and we are proud to stand with our friend Israel.

Rep. Lee Zeldin is a Republican House member from New York.