Washington, D.C. – Today the House passed a bipartisan bill, the Combating European Anti-Semitism Act of 2017 (H.R. 672), to require increased reporting on anti-Semitic incidents in Europe, greater collaborative efforts between U.S. and European law enforcement and improved security for Jewish communities.

On the House floor, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) delivered the following remarks (as prepared for delivery):

“I would like to begin by thanking Congresswoman Nita Lowey and Chairman Emeritus Ileana Ros-Lehtinen for their leadership on the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism, and for their good work on this timely and important bill.

Mr. Speaker – Hostility towards the Jewish people in some European cities is deep, making Jews in certain areas look over their shoulders, afraid to walk the streets at night.

In recent years, this surge in anti-Semitism has led to an outbreak of violent attacks targeting Jewish neighborhoods and places of worship, as in 2015 with the deadly attacks on the kosher supermarket in Paris, and later a synagogue in Copenhagen.

European governments have since passed laws designed to better protect their Jewish citizens and to punish those who perpetrate anti-Semitic incidents. But much more work remains to be done.

There needs to be better coordination on these efforts between Jewish communities and law enforcement, and more comprehensive reporting on incidents to identify trends and problematic regions.

In addition, in order to consistently apply anti-Semitism laws throughout Europe there needs to be a uniform legal understanding of what constitutes anti-Semitism.

We must be clear on this: the firebombing of synagogues, the defacing of cemeteries, yelling slurs at rabbis and threatening Jewish schoolchildren…this is not political protest— it is anti-Semitism.  And it must be stopped.

Absent a clear-eyed definition of anti-Semitism, perpetrators of violent attacks have at times been given a pass for their actions due to the flimsy defense of political protest.

Adoption across Europe of a single definition of anti-Semitism would provide an important foundation for law enforcement officials, enabling them to better enforce laws and develop strategies for improved security for the Jewish community.

This bill – HR 672 – the Combating European Anti-Semitism Act of 2017, calls for these fundamental improvements.

Specifically, it reaffirms the US commitment to combatting anti-Semitism, urges European nations to adopt a working definition of anti-Semitism, and calls for increased reporting on: anti-Semitic incidents in Europe; collaborative efforts between U.S. and European law enforcement, and efforts to improve security for Jewish communities.

Now is the time to act and pass this important measure.”