By: Rep. Carolyn Maloney
We’re at a dangerous moment in time. Anti-Semitism and hate crimes are on the rise around the world and here at home. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), anti-Semitic incidents in this country spiked by 60 percent between 2016 and 2017. That is the largest single year increase since the ADL starting tracking this data almost 40 years ago. Community centers and cemeteries are defaced with Swastikas, words of hate are being thrown around online and in the public sphere, and bomb threats are being made against Jewish institutions.
Less than a year and half ago, on October 27, 2018, we bore witness to what is believed to be the deadliest on the Jewish community in the history of the United States when eleven Jews were killed during their worship on a Sabbath morning at the Tree of Life Synagogue. And then, a month later in New York, a 9-year-old Hasidic boy was assaulted in Williamsburg. A week later, a Hasidic man was attacked only blocks from the first attack.
And then on April 27, 2019, 6 months after the shooting at Tree Of Life, a gunman entered the Chabad of Poway killing one worshipper and injuring three others on the last day of Passover, which happened to also fall on Shabbat. As we condemn these horrendous attacks, we need to also be proactive in stopping them in the first place. I believe this starts with one very important tenet; if we do not learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it. This is why teaching about the Holocaust and the dangers of antisemitism, bigotry and hate is so important. We need to make sure that our children and students understand where hateful language and “one-off” incidents can lead.
Currently, far too many students in our country grow up without basic knowledge of the Holocaust and a survey released in April 2018 by the Claims Conference in Germany shows that Americans are forgetting about the Holocaust. Forty-nine percent of millennials cannot name a single concentration camp. Thirty-one percent of Americans believe that two million or fewer Jews were killed in the Holocaust. Fifty-two percent of Americans erroneously think Hitler came to power through force. It is more important than ever that we provide Holocaust education in schools.
This why I introduced H.R. 943, the Never Again Education Act. I’m proud to say that many of my colleagues agree with me – the bill currently has more than 290 bipartisan cosponsors and is expected to overwhelming pass out of the House next week. This bipartisan bill ensures more schools have the opportunity and resources to educate their students about the Holocaust. H.R. 943 will give our teachers the resources and training they need to teach our children the important lessons of the Holocaust and the consequences of intolerance and hate by:
- Expanding the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s education programming, requiring the Museum to develop and disseminate accurate, relevant, and accessible resources to promote understanding about how and why the Holocaust happened to teachers across the country. This will allow the Museum to build on the incredible work they have done for more than 30 years, building and supporting the field of Holocaust education.
- Allowing the Museum to expand their professional development programs for teachers, increase engagement with state and local education leaders to encourage the adoption of these resources, and to evaluate and assess the effectiveness and impact of Holocaust education programs.
- Authorizing $10 million dollars over 5 years to go to these activities.
The memory of the Holocaust is fading, and that needs to change. Only by teaching our children about the terrors of the Holocaust can we make sure we live up to the promise “Never Again.” It is not enough to condemn hate as it happens.
Children are not born with hate in their hearts, we should make sure they never learn it. With this spike in antisemitism and acts of hate, we need to act now. Congressional leaders might be motivated to move forward by seeing calls to support Holocaust education programs in papers like yours. I respectfully request that you join an effort to draw attention to this bill and the importance of Holocaust education as we continue to condemn all acts of hatred and bigotry.