In contrast to the March House fiasco presided over by Nancy Pelosi, Ted Cruz and Tim Kaine demonstrated this week what leadership looks like
On Thursday, the Senate did what the House was unwilling to do earlier this year: Pass a bipartisan, unanimous resolution that expressly condemned anti-Semitism.
Fox News reports:
The new resolution, introduced by Texas Republican Ted Cruz and Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine, calls anti-Semitism “a unique form of prejudice stretching back millennia that attacks the equal humanity of the Jewish people.”
“The Senate did what the House couldn’t,” a senior Senate aide told Fox News. “It said that anti-Semitism is a unique kind of bigotry that needs to be uniquely condemned. Everyone knows that’s obviously, objectively true. The question is why the House can’t bring itself to say so.”
The “anti-hate” resolution that passed the House back in March was seven pages long and broad-based in nature, covering “all forms of bigotry” after several days of public criticism from Republicans and heated infighting among Democrats.
The Ocasio-Cortez wing of the party thought it was unfair and unjust to single out Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), whose repeated anti-Semitic comments in the weeks prior were the catalyst that prompted the push from Republicans for a resolution condemning anti-Semitism in the first place. Some Jewish House Democrats expressed concern privately with Pelosi that House leadership was letting Omar off the hook too easily.
In the end, the Ocasio-Cortez wing won out, and what Republicans called a “watered down” resolution was presented for a floor vote. The final vote on the March resolution was 407-23, with all Democrats voting in favor and 23 Republicans voting against the measure in protest that it neither focused exclusively on anti-Semitism nor mentioned Rep. Omar.
In contrast, the Senate resolution that passed Thursday solely focused on anti-Semitism and was short and to the point at just two pages. It was co-sponsored by dozens of Senators, including 14 Democrats, and the vote was unanimous in favor.
On the floor of the Senate, Cruz spoke about the reasons the resolution was needed:
“We’re living in an era where the need for a strong and clear condemnation of anti-Semitism has become acute,” Cruz said.
Cruz then went on to discuss the uptick in anti-Semitic attacks and violence in the United States and abroad, highlighting such horrific incidents as the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh which killed eleven people.
“We have seen the growth on our college campuses of movements to aggressively boycott products made by Jews in Israel,” he continued, highlighting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
He also mentioned the New York Times‘s recent announcement that they would stop publishing daily political cartoons internationally after the outrage over an anti-Semitic cartoon the paper ran back in April.
And though the Senate resolution didn’t explicitly mention Omar, the speech Cruz gave all but called her and the House Democrats who sidestepped the issue in March out by name (transcribed from video):
“This resolution was also prompted, unfortunately, by the inability of the House of Representatives to come together and vote on a resolution straightforwardly and directly condemning anti-Semitism.
Too many in political life have given in to the extremes, including the embrace of boycotts and at times outright hatred for Israel, the world’s only Jewish state.
So when the House tried to condemn anti-Semitism, sadly they were instead forced to water it down into a general resolution decrying bigotry of all sorts, listing every group they could think of.
There’s of course nothing wrong with condemning bigotry and hatred in general, but anti-Semitism is a unique prejudice, with a unique history that has led to unique horrors throughout history.
Jews today are the most targeted religious group in the United States for hate crimes according to the data compiled by the FBI. We need to be able to acknowledge that clearly and directly, and that’s what this resolution does.”
Watch Sen. Cruz’s speech below:
Kaine’s speech focused on the August 2017 Charlottesville riots that left several injured and a young woman, Heather Heyer, dead. He also noted that those in leadership positions needed to stand firm against anti-Semitism:
“Right now, we are seeing an uptick in hate crimes against Jewish communities. We have to acknowledge that anti-Semitism is real, it’s dangerous, and it’s growing,” said Kaine. “Those of us in leadership positions need to stand up against it, and I’m grateful that Senator Cruz reached out to work together on this bipartisan effort. I’m proud the Senate came together to unanimously pass our resolution that shows we will do everything in our power to combat this rise in anti-Semitism.”
Watch Sen. Kaine’s speech below:
That Republicans and Democrats in the Senate joined together in a bipartisan manner without disagreement on this resolution stands in stark contrast to the failed leadership efforts of Speaker Pelosi in the House in March during the run-up to the resolution that ultimately passed in that chamber.
It really shouldn’t have been that hard for her to get a majority consensus on expressly condemning anti-Semitism. But it was. And the excuses she gave in the aftermath of it all were not acceptable and should not be forgotten.
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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