(December 4, 2019 / JNS) Earlier this year, I wrote an op-ed with 2018 congressional candidate Naomi Levin, calling out members of Congress for their lack of action regarding Holocaust education in America. They seem to have received the message.
As of today and thanks to the work of many individuals, nonprofits and elected leaders:
1) 296 members of Congress (House and Senate) have attached their names to a bill(s) supporting Holocaust education.
2) Nine out of 10 American think Holocaust education should be mandatory per the Claims Conference Study.
3) U.S. President Donald Trump has indicated that he is supportive of more Holocaust education in America.
So with public support almost unanimous, 70 percent of our federal elected officials on board and the POTUS signaling support, why isn’t this bipartisan bill moving forward?
Which leads me to ask: Madam Speaker Pelosi, is Holocaust education a priority to you and your leadership team?
Here is the background for those unfamiliar:
In 2018, a bipartisan bill, the “Never Again Education Act” was introduced by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) with Republican support to authorize the Department of Education to provide federal grants to nonprofits and educational institutions to carry out educational programs regarding the Holocaust.
The bill was never read in committee and garnered little support from House members. It died a slow death in 2018.
In 2019, the bill was re-introduced by Maloney when the new class of Congress was sworn into office. The bill was introduced and referred to the Education and Labor Committee chaired by Congressman Bobby Scott (D-Va.) on Jan. 31, 2019.
Since the House bill was introduced more than 11 months ago, it hasn’t been read once in committee. There has been zero action from House leaders to move this bill forward and that’s a real shame. A real shame!
With weekly attacks on Jews on the rise and daily images of Nazi swastikas in public areas and college campuses, why isn’t Holocaust Education a priority?
I firmly believe that if our federal government had made Holocaust education a priority 10 years ago, we wouldn’t be seeing as many attacks as we do today.
There is a direct correlation between the rise of anti-Semitism and the 49 percent of millennials in America who can’t name a single Nazi concentration camp or the 66 percent who don’t know where Auschwitz was (where my grandfather Edgar Leib lost his entire family and was only kept alive for three years only because he was handy).
We can’t go back in time, but we can have an impact on the present and the future. We must apply maximum pressure on our elected officials right now.
I’m calling on House leadership—Democrats and Republicans—to step up and put this bill on the House floor for a roll call vote before Dec. 20.
Please do the right thing: Stop playing politics with the memory of 6 million Jews and rise up to act against anti-Semitism. Send this bill to the president’s desk for signature.
With nine out of 10 Americans wanting this bill passed, the time for Congress to act is now.
Bryan E. Leib is a Philadelphia native who lives in New York City. He was previously with the Israeli-American Council, and in 2018 was the Republican Candidate for U.S. Congress in Philadelphia. He currently serves on the boards of Americans Against Anti-Semitism, Young Friends of the National Museum of American Jewish History and is a member of the JNF-USA Speakers Bureau.
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