Two weeks ago, 20-year-old James Reardon was arrested before he could carry out an act of anti-Semitic violence against the Youngstown Jewish Community Center.
While the Northeast Ohio community is beyond thankful for our local law enforcement and the FBI’s quick work to prevent this tragic act of violence, Reardon’s arrest paints a dark picture ... one that underscores the troubling fact that lately, anti-Semitism has become far too common in our country.
Let me be clear: there is no place for anti-Semitism or any similar hatred in our society.
The freedom of religion is a fundamental right provided to all American citizens in the Constitution. Any threat to this right is an attack on one of the core pillars of our democracy and must be confronted. It is our duty as a nation to stand together against anti-Semitism.
Unfortunately, anti-Semitism has been allowed to live on in our global economy disguised as the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, an international campaign that encourages the boycotting of companies and organizations that do business with the state of Israel.
This thinly-veiled act of anti-Semitism cannot be tolerated.
My father was one of the brave members of our Armed Forces who risked his life to defeat the scourge of Nazism during World War II and I am proud to continue his fight against anti-Semitism in Congress.
In July, I joined 397 of my colleagues in voting to oppose the BDS movement, and as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I have worked to ensure that all members of our community have the resources necessary to practice their religion peacefully and without fear.
Specifically, I have repeatedly supported funding for the Non-Profit Security Grant Program, which provides at-risk organizations with funding for security enhancements. This funding can help houses of worship, such as synagogues, community centers and schools, save lives when dealing with threats to public safety.
However, simply responding to anti-Semitism is not enough. We must work to prevent it from ever taking root in the first place.
That’s why I cosponsored the Never Again Education Act, a bill to give teachers across the United States the resources and training they need to teach our children the important lessons of the Holocaust and the consequences of intolerance and hate. By educating our children on the cruelest times in human history, we can help eradicate the hatred that fuels these terrible acts.
Earlier this year, I had the honor of meeting Erika Gold, a Holocaust survivor who has lived in the Cleveland area since 1950. A storekeeper’s daughter born and raised in Budapest, Hungary, she was just 12 years old when she and her mother began fighting for survival from the Nazis.
Tears were brought to my eyes as Gold told me the story of how they, along with 300 others, were being transported out of the city when her mother bravely pulled her off the truck at a busy public square. Together, they escaped into the crowd and were able to find refuge until Budapest was liberated from Nazi control in 1945. Later on, the two would find out everyone who remained on the truck died at Auschwitz.
Erika’s story is one of love and courage during history’s darkest hour. With the troubling rise of anti-Semitism in America, stories like Gold’s remind us that we must reaffirm our commitment to defeating anti-Semitism in any and all of its forms.
Rest assured, I remain committed to ensuring all Americans have the freedom to practice their religion peacefully without fear and will continue to proudly stand with Ohio’s Jewish community against all anti-Semitic threats.
David Joyce is a U.S. Congressman from the 14th District in Bainbridge Township.