In this time of great international uncertainty, it is now more important than ever before to reaffirm as a people, and as a nation, our unequivocal support for the state of Israel, the lone Democracy in the Middle East and one of our closest, and strongest, allies across the globe.
As your next congressperson, I pledge to be a supportive voice for Israel in Washington, and will defend Israel’s right to exist and to thrive in the years and generations to come. That means supporting Israel both economically and militarily, so they are able to defend themselves in a dangerous part of the world; it means defending Israel diplomatically and playing an active role in ongoing efforts to forge a peace agreement centered on a two-state solution; and it means calling out not just antisemitism at home and abroad, but also those policies that we believe are harmful to the state of Israel and the United States, to democracy, and to human rights and justice.
A Strong, Secure Israel
The United States must continue to strongly support Israel and the Israeli people. Israel has the right to defend itself from those who view a Jewish state as an enemy to be destroyed.
A secure Israel means an Israel free from the threat of nuclear attacks from their enemies. Failed negotiations and capitulations over the years have allowed Iran to continue progress toward acquiring a nuclear weapon, an existential threat to Israel’s very ability to exist. It is paramount that we come to a new agreement with Iran, with the result of actually forcing them to give up on nuclear weapons; any such agreement must include stringent oversight mechanisms that prevent their future development. Until such an agreement is reached, we need to continue to apply strict sanctions against Iran to bring them to the negotiating table and hold them accountable.
An Unshakeable U.S.-Israel Bond
A strong and secure Israel and a strong and secure United States of America go hand in hand. It is crucial not only for Israel, but for the United States, for our country to maintain this key ally in an unstable region.
Our nations’ bond dates back decades, since we became the first nation to officially recognize the Jewish state, in 1948. Those historical ties have continued to this day. No matter who was president or which political party was in control of Congress, our nation has remained steadfast in our support, both economic and military, for Israel and the Israeli people, and that will never change. We should pursue ongoing national security and military partnerships with Israel, as we have done in recent years, including the historic arms deal under the Obama administration and, more recently, a significant new arms deal approved by the Biden administration. We also should maintain the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem as we build on our longstanding diplomatic ties to Israel; and work to strengthen trade between our two nations and with the state of Michigan.
A Two-State Solution
One thing is clear: Only a two-state solution will bring an end to the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. A peaceful resolution of the decades-long crisis can be achieved only if both sides do their part in the name of shared peace and prosperity and negotiate an agreement in good faith, with the support of the international community.
The United States can, and should, play a crucial role in resolving the conflict. With U.S. leadership and diplomacy, we can reach an agreement that satisfies the needs of all parties, including Israel’s ability to continue to exist as a Jewish democracy, with borders that satisfy its security needs now and in the future. While Israel must respect the human and civil rights of Palestinians, Palestinian leadership must condemn the violence perpetrated by Hamas and recognize the state of Israel’s right to exist. I believe this is an achievable goal, and that with strong leadership from the United States we can achieve a two-state solution, with a shared capital in Jerusalem and peace throughout the Middle East.
Defending Israel Abroad
Israel can rest assured that the United States will continue our unerring commitment to defending our ally in the Middle East, not just militarily, but diplomatically as well. We will continue to oppose antisemitic and anti-Israel actions and statements on the world stage, including when the U.N. Human Rights Council unfairly singles out Israel. And we will prevent any attempts by opponents of Israel to unilaterally declare Palestinian statehood, which would make a negotiated two-state solution less, not more, likely to be reached in the coming years.
Debating Israel at Home
While our nation’s support for Israel remains constant, a strong Jewish state based upon democratic ideals must leave room for respectful debate. Indeed, closing off such debate will do more to hinder Israel’s well-being than will any airing of disagreements or criticisms. That said, any policies, whether enacted by the state of Israel or by Congress, that create barriers to peace and security in the region, for Israelis and Palestinians alike, should be called out for what they are; and any statements that deny the humanity of individuals or societies, Jewish or Muslim, must be loudly condemned.
Because it is our duty, as a close partner, to help bolster Israel both economically and militarily, I oppose the BDS movement, which I believe is both ill-advised and antithetical to the health of our close ally in the Middle East. At the same time, I support the provision of economic and humanitarian aid to help millions of Palestinian refugees – aid that was inhumanely cut off by the Trump administration before being restored by the Biden administration last year. The fact is, reducing this sort of financial assistance to those in need in the name of support for Israel has precisely the opposite intended effect – destabilizing an already unstable region and creating the conditions for more violence and more extremism.
Israel has a friend and an ally in the United States, and the United States has a friend and an ally in Israel. As a member of Congress, I promise to do all I can to allow that friendship to flourish.
Fighting Antisemitism in Michigan
In recent years, we have seen the horrifying rise of Antisemitism throughout our country, and, unfortunately, Michigan is no exception. We have seen an increase in misinformation and hateful rhetoric towards the Jewish people, a rise in Holocaust distortion and denial, harassment, and violent attacks against Jewish people. This disturbing trend is unacceptable and I sponsored a resolution condemning Antisemitism in all forms, and urging community leaders, the Attorney General’s office and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights to take all action possible to investigate and address rising cases of antisemitism in Michigan. The full text of the resolution is below.
Rep.Thanedar offered the following resolution:
A resolution to condemn antisemitism and urge Michigan leaders to prevent, report, and address incidents of antisemitism.
Whereas, The Jewish-American experience is a story of faith, fortitude, and progress and is connected to key tenets of the American identity. Generations of Jewish people have come to this nation fleeing oppression, discrimination, and persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their children. These Jewish Americans have created lives for themselves and their families and have played indispensable roles in our nation’s civic and community life, making invaluable contributions to our nation through their leadership and achievements. On August 21, 1790, President George Washington sent a letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, expressing that the newly formed United States would be a nation that “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance” and wished that the Jewish people “who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants … and there shall be none to make him afraid.” We should acknowledge and celebrate the crucial contributions that Jewish Americans have made to our collective struggle for a more just and fair society, leading movements for justice and equality and working to ensure opportunities for all; and
Whereas, Alongside this narrative of achievement and opportunity, there is also a history, far older than the nation itself, of racism, bigotry, and other forms of prejudice manifesting in the scourge of antisemitism. Antisemitism is an insidious form of prejudice stretching back millennia that attacks the humanity of the Jewish people and has led to violence, the destruction of lives and communities, and genocide. Conspiracy theories that Jewish people are uniquely evil and influential have led to mass killings of Jewish people throughout time, including the poisonous Nazi ideology that resulted in the murder of 6,000,000 Jewish people, including 1,500,000 Jewish children, and millions of other victims of the Nazis in Europe; and
Whereas, Over the course of the past decade, Holocaust distortion and denial has grown in intensity. A 2020 survey of all 50 states in the United States on Holocaust knowledge among Millennials and Gen Z, conducted by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), found a clear lack of awareness of key historical facts. Sixty-three percent of respondents did not know that 6,000,000 Jewish people were murdered during the Holocaust, and 36 percent thought that “two million or fewer Jews” were killed; and
Whereas, Michigan residents are not immune from believing these falsehoods. The 2020 Claims Conference study found that, among Michiganians between ages 18 and 39, 14 percent of respondents believed that Jewish people caused the Holocaust, more than the 11 percent who believed this nationwide. Twice as many respondents in Michigan outright denied that the Holocaust happened, compared to the national result of 3 percent. And a higher proportion of respondents from Michigan, 18 percent, reported having seen Nazi symbols both in their community and on social media, than the 13 percent reported for the whole United States; and
Whereas, There is a documented and dangerous rise of antisemitism globally and in the United States. In this country, Jewish people are increasingly affected by the grotesque spread of misinformation and lies, including blame for the spread of COVID-19; false claims, including the control of the media and the financial system; accusations of dual loyalty; and a multitude of negative stereotypes. The use of antisemitic language, conspiracy theories, and hatred has increased on multiple social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, including tropes about Jewish control and messages praising Hitler and demonizing all Jewish people; and
Whereas, There have been numerous incidents of antisemitism in the 2020s, as documented by the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). These incidents are increasing at an alarming rate; and
Whereas, The American Jewish Committee (AJC)’s 2021 State of Antisemitism in America report is a survey of American Jewish people and the general public’s perceptions of antisemitism. This report revealed that 24 percent of Jewish Americans have been personally targeted by antisemitism in the past 12 months; 4 in 10 Jewish Americans changed their behavior at least once out of fear of antisemitism; 90 percent believe antisemitism is a problem in the United States; and 82 percent feel it has increased in the past 5 years; and
Whereas, According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Jewish people were the target of almost 55 percent of religiously motivated hate crime incidents in 2020: 683 out of 1,244 incidents. This is a massively disproportionate share of hate crimes, considering that only about 2.6 percent of those who report having any religious preference are Jewish, based on data gathered in Gallup polls; and
Whereas, The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported sharp increases in antisemitism in 2021, compared to 2020. The ADL’s 2021 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents in the United States recorded 2,717 acts of assault, vandalism, and harassment this past year alone, an average of more than 7 incidents per day. This was a 34-percent increase from 2020 and the highest year on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979. In 2021, 525 antisemitic incidents took place at Jewish institutions, an increase of 61 percent over data collected in 2020, and antisemitic assaults increased by 167 percent in 2021, compared to 2020. This increase is partially attributable to a substantial surge of antisemitic incidents in May 2021, during a military conflict between Israel and Hamas that began on May 10 and lasted through the end of the month. During the conflict, 297 antisemitic incidents were reported, a 141 percent increase compared to 2020. Jewish individuals were violently attacked in major cities, including New York and Los Angeles, and many of the perpetrators explicitly referred to Israel or Zionism; and
Whereas, According to the ADL, Michigan was the state with the fifth highest number of antisemitic incidents in 2021. Out of a total of 2,717 incidents in the United States, 112 occurred in Michigan, or about 4 percent. This was out of proportion to the state’s population in that year, which was ranked 10th in the United States, with about 3 percent of the nation’s people, based on data from the United States Census Bureau. In March 2021, a social media content creator harassed customers at a Kosher market in Michigan; and
Whereas, There are regular acts of antisemitic vandalism against synagogues and Jewish schools in the United States, and numerous nonlethal attacks have been made on Jewish Americans, leaving many Jewish people feeling increasingly unsafe in public spaces and houses of worship. In October 2018, 11 people were shot and killed at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh. The ACJ’s 2021 State of Antisemitism in America report revealed that 56 percent of respondents’ religious institutions had increased security since this shooting. A recent example of violent antisemitism took place on Saturday, January 15, 2022. During religious services at Congregation Beth Israel, a terrorist held 4 people, including a rabbi, hostage at gunpoint for 11 hours. Following this hostage situation, police departments in a number of American cities, including New York and Los Angeles, have said that they are stepping up patrols at synagogues and other locations associated with the Jewish community; and
Whereas, Harassment at Jewish institutions also occurs in Michigan. The ADL reports that Witness for Peace, an antisemitic and anti-Israel group led by a Holocaust denier, has been protesting outside an Ann Arbor synagogue since 2003. As of 2021, they held protests every week, carrying signs with slogans such as “Israel: No Right to Exist” and “Heil Hitler!”; and
Whereas, The rise in antisemitism is part of the larger trend of the rise of hate-filled movements that are targeting marginalized communities here in the United States, and especially in Michigan; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the House of Representatives, That we condemn antisemitism in all forms, by all actors, wherever it occurs, as an affront to basic human decency and a civilized society; and be it further
Resolved, That we urge all Michigan community leaders to take steps to prevent antisemitism and report any antisemitic incidents to local law enforcement, the Michigan Attorney General’s Hate Crimes Unit, or the Michigan Department of Civil Rights; and be it further
Resolved, That we urge the Michigan Attorney General and Michigan Department of Civil Rights to investigate and address the ongoing and rising cases of antisemitism in Michigan; and be it further
Resolved, That copies of this resolution be transmitted to the Michigan Attorney General, the Governor of Michigan, and the Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.