McCarthy, Kustoff introduce bill targeting anti-Semitic hate crimes amid wave of attacks

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EXCLUSIVE: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and GOP Rep. David Kustoff on Tuesday rolled out a bill to prevent anti-Semitic hate crimes amid a wave of violent attacks against American Jews in the U.S. after an 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas. 

Fox News first obtained McCarthy, R-Calif., and Kustoff’s, R-Tenn., legislation, Preventing Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes Act, on Tuesday.

“May is designated as Jewish American Heritage Month, a time to celebrate and recognize our community’s great contributions to the United States. Yet, we are instead witnessing a spike of brutal anti-Semitic harassment and assault across our cities,” Kustoff told Fox News. 

“Now is the time for members of Congress to stand up and show the world that these despicable and hateful attacks have no place in our country,” he continued, adding that the bill “will help combat anti-Semitism in the U.S. and ensure the individuals who commit these violent attacks are prosecuted and held accountable for their actions.” 

“As a proud member of the Jewish community, and one of only two Jewish Republicans in Congress, I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support and pass this crucial piece of legislation,” Kustoff said. 

The bill states that “Jews are the targets of the majority of hate crimes committed in the United States against any religious group, including attacks on houses of worship and Jewish community centers.” 

“Amid ongoing conflict in May 2021 between Israel, which is one of the closest allies of the United States, and Hamas, which is a terrorist organization and has been designated by the United States as such since 1997, media reports indicate that there has been a dramatic increase in hate crimes and violence against Jews in the United States.” 

The bill cites reports that indicate “activists and mobs acting in support” of Hamas and its sympathizers “have incited and perpetrated hate crimes and violence against Jews in the United States. In 2021.” 

“In its most extreme form, anti-Semitism aims at the physical destruction of the Jewish people, as seen in pogroms, forced conversions and Nazi Germany’s murder of over six million Jews,” the bill states. “Anti-Semitism has included attacks on the livelihood of Jews including prohibitions on land ownership, campaigns to boycott, confiscate or destroy Jewish businesses, and denial of the ability of Jews to practice certain professions.” 

The bill states that Jews in the U.S. “have suffered from systemic discrimination in the form of exclusion from home ownership in certain neighborhoods, prohibition from staying in certain hotels, restrictions upon membership in private clubs and other associations, limitations upon admission to certain educational institutions and other barriers to equal justice under the law.” 

The bill also says that in the U.S., Jews “have faced, and continue to face, false accusations of divided loyalty between the United States and Israel, false claims that they purchase political power with money, and false accusations about control of the financial system, along with other negative stereotypes.” 

“The people of the United States stand in solidarity with those affected by hate incidents directed toward the American Jewish community,” McCarthy and Kustoff write in the legislation. 

The bill would require the Justice Department to designate a staffer to handle an expedited review of reported anti-Semitic hate crimes for the next three years. Sources familiar with the drafting of the legislation said that language is almost identical to what passed in the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. 

The bill would also require the attorney general to issue a report to Congress within 90 days, and every 90 days thereafter for three years. The report, as required by the legislation, would break down the number of anti-Semitic hate crimes reported to the FBI in that quarter, the number of active anti-Semitic hate crime investigations conducted by the Justice Department during that quarter, the number of prosecutions of those crimes conducted by the Justice Department, and other efforts undertaken by the DOJ to combat anti-Semitic hate crimes during the quarter. 

McCarthy and Kustoff’s legislation would also remove the 10-year maximum penalty for federal hate crimes convictions if the offender has at least one prior conviction for a state or federal hate crime felony. Currently, the maximum is 10 years, unless the offense involves death, kidnapping, aggravated sexual abuse, or attempted murder. 

Republicans in the Senate are expected to introduce similar legislation later Tuesday. 

“Sen. Cotton and I are introducing new legislation to fight anti-Semitism,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor Tuesday morning. “Our bills support state and local law enforcement ensure that bigoted thugs who are attacking Jewish Americans face the full force of our justice system.” 

Also on Tuesday, Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., introduced a resolution condemning hatred and violence against Jews, denouncing anti-Israel rhetoric, and reaffirming that Jews must be treated with dignity and respect. 

“Those in power must understand the influence their words have on the actions of those inclined to violence,” Cassidy said in a statement. “This resolution sends a needed message that antisemitism has no place in our country and must be condemned.”

“The sickening rise in anti-Semitic attacks in the United States and around the world must end, along with the hateful anti-Israel rhetoric from politicians and the media that inspires the violence,” Hawley said in a statement. “We must ensure that Jewish people receive the full protection of law owed to them as citizens of the United States.”

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also condemned anti-Semitism in the U.S., saying the leader “condemns in the strongest possible terms any and all anti-Semitic attacks in New York and across the country.” 

“Confronting anti-Semitism ought not to be a partisan issue and these awful recent attacks as reported as wrong, plain and simple,” the Schumer spokesman said. 

President Biden, this week, also condemned what he called “despicable” anti-Semitic attacks against American Jews in the U.S. who have found themselves targets of death threats, hate speech and violent physical attacks in states like New York, New Jersey, California, Illinois, Utah, Arizona and Florida in recent weeks. 

“The recent attacks on the Jewish community are despicable, and they must stop,” Biden said. “I condemn this hateful behavior at home and abroad–it’s up to all of us to give hate no safe harbor.”

And Vice President Kamala Harris also condemned the attacks. 

“The surge in anti-Semitic attacks against the Jewish community in the U.S. and around the world is despicable—it must be called out, condemned, and stopped,” Harris tweeted. “As a country, we must stand united against hate of any kind.” 

Meanwhile, the fighting between Israel and Hamas came to a stop after more than 200 deaths over 11 days when Israel announced a cease-fire last week, which was negotiated with the help of Egypt, the neighboring country that for decades has served as a mediator in conflicts in the region.

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