A broad coalition of U.S. House members sounded the alarm Friday about “a dramatic spike in violent antisemitism across this country” and urged President Joe Biden to act.
“Regardless of what state or which side of the political spectrum antisemitism comes from, we must respond forcefully and immediately. We cannot wait for another attack to turn deadly before we respond,” they wrote. “We find our nation in a tense moment …. We come together to urge a strong response to the rising antisemitism spreading in our country.”
The president, in a statement later Friday, said the “attacks are despicable, unconscionable, un-American, and they must stop. I will not allow our fellow Americans to be intimidated or attacked because of who they are or the faith they practice.”
The congressional letter was crafted by U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat who represents a Broward-Palm Beach County district with many Jewish residents, and three other members of the House — two Republicans and a Democrat.
Almost one-third of House members, Democrats and Republicans, had signed by Friday afternoon. Signatories include House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal.
They cited “the rise in physical and violent antisemitic attacks taking place in communities across the country.”
On Tuesday, the interim president of the Jewish Federation of Broward County and the president of the Broward Board of Rabbis, condemned a recent rise in antisemitic incidents. “Jews, no matter where they reside, should never live in fear of intimidation or personal attack because of their religious beliefs or identity.
Last weekend in Hallandale Beach, a man repeatedly hurled antisemitic remarks to anyone within earshot at a synagogue. Police also said the man dumped human feces on the property.
Last week, a Jewish family walking in Bal Harbour reported men in an SUV started harassing them. One of the victims told the Miami Herald they were taunted with shouts of “Free Palestine, f— you Jew, die Jew” and threats: “‘We’re going to rape your daughter. We’re going to rape your wife.’”
On May 20, Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law. It’s designed to deal with an increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
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Under the new law, a Justice Department official will be put in charge of hate crime-reviews and federal grants will be targeted to improved investigation and reporting of incidents.
The members of Congress asked Biden to quickly implement provisions of the law.
Florida signatories include Deutch, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Stephanie Murphy, Lois Frankel, Darren Soto, Carlos Gimenez, Gus Bilirakis, Charlie Crist, Al Lawson, Kathy Castor, Frederica Wilson and María Salazar.