Opinion

When will congressional Jews pull the fire alarm?

Demanding that Nancy Pelosi take concrete actions, such as censure and committee reassignments, would convey a clear recognition of the gravity of anti-Semitism in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) speaking on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on the conflict between Israel and Palestinians, May 13, 2021. Source: Screenshot/C-SPAN.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) speaking on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on the conflict between Israel and Palestinians, May 13, 2021. Source: Screenshot/C-SPAN.
Andrew D. Lappin
Andrew D. Lappin
Andrew D. Lappin is a redeveloper of urban industrial properties. He is a board member of the Ember Foundation.

As a Jew residing in a suburban Jewish bubble, my congressman, Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), has been largely unseen where the mounting anti-Semitism from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is concerned—with one exception. He seems not to grasp fully the stark reality that the nation’s hallowed halls are bleeding pure, unadulterated racism.

He and his 25 Jewish colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives remain compliantly huddled under the shadow of party boss, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Pelosi, calculating the necessity of appeasing Rep. Omar (D-Minn.) and her progressive colleagues, has skillfully wielded her political bludgeon to keep Schneider and his fellow Jews from outbursts that might crack the delicate veneer of party unity.

In response to growing Jewish angst, however, she did allow 12 Jewish members to squeak a response to Omar’s latest anti-Semitic attack, which American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris called “beyond shocking and beyond reprehensible.” But she quickly closed the lid on all further action or discussion, casting the matter back into seclusion.

At what point will conscience or awareness cause Schneider and his 25 Jewish colleagues to realize that, in their collectively lifeless response, they are contributing in no small way to history’s tragic repetition? When will they understand that the longer they delay what needs to be an unambiguous rejection of this bawdiness, the more difficult it will be to “put the toothpaste back in the tube”?

Platitudes and flowery statements reflect uncertainty. Conversely, demanding that Pelosi take concrete actions, such as censure and committee reassignments, would convey a clear recognition of the gravity of the matter.

By failing in the face of such undiluted race-baiting to challenge her preference for rigorous party discipline, Jewish members are in fact validating the obtuse notion that the ongoing barrage of anti-Semitic epithets has become somehow protected under the First Amendment. It’s almost like a zero-sum game in which, at the expense of Jewish targets, “blackness,” “brownness,” “Islamism and “LGBTQishness” have been elevated to statures meriting incredibly delicate trigger mechanisms that, even if minorly challenged, release a Congressional fusillade.

I listened recently to an executive with our local Jewish federation in Chicago bemoaning the rise in the number of complaints from Jews who have become afraid to wear kipot or other identifiably Jewish accessories. It seemed for a time that physical assaults on Jews and vandalism of Jewish institutions had been limited in scope to London, Paris, Berlin, New York and Los Angeles. Apparently, the tides are shifting.

At what point will Schneider join with his Jewish colleagues to deem it appropriate to pull the fire alarm? What has to happen that has not already happened—that should never be allowed to happen—for our cherished sense of belonging within this great nation to be irrevocably scarred?

Andrew D. Lappin is a redeveloper of urban industrial properties. He is a board member of The Ember Foundation, NGO Monitor, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA), and serves on The Illinois Policy Board which monitors corporate compliance with the state’s anti-BDS statute. He is a former board member of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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