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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5)

GLEN ROCK, NJ — Today, Tuesday, October 27, 2020, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) joined U.S. Special Envoy Elan Carr to discuss work to combat Foreign Terrorist Organizations utilizing social media, recent agreements between Israel and Arab states, and the United States’ efforts to combat anti-Semitism at home and abroad. 

Gottheimer announced today new bipartisan legislation — the U.S.-Israel Common Defense Authorization Act — cosponsored by Rep. Brian Mast (FL-18) to strengthen Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME) in the region and secure both the U.S. and Israel from the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. This new bipartisan legislation will be introduced this week.

The bipartisan U.S.-Israel Common Defense Authorization Act will:

  • Ensure the U.S. will continue to support Israel’s security as Iran increases nuclear enrichment;
  • Require the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to consult with Israel and report to Congress on Israel’s capability to deter a full range of threats, including whether transferring “bunker buster” munitions capable of taking out Iran’s underground nuclear infrastructure would advance both countries’ security; and
  • Preserve Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region while reaffirming the credibility of the U.S. military to deter Iran. 

“We must ensure our ally Israel is equipped and prepared to confront a full range of threats, including the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. That’s why I’m proud to be introducing this new bipartisan bill to defend Israel from Iran and Hezbollah and reinforce our historic ally’s qualitative military edge in the region with ‘bunker buster’ munitions. Iran and its terrorist proxies throughout the region must never be able to threaten the U.S. or Israel with a nuclear weapon. Truly, there should be nothing partisan about our national security, nor our relationship with our ally Israel,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “We also must fight anti-Semitism, extremism, misinformation, and homegrown hate — like the Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, and other groups here in New Jersey — wherever it exists, whether at home or abroad or online. We cannot allow these ideas to fester, to go unchecked, or to be further embraced. We must continue to act to address anti-Semitism and hate wherever and whenever we see it — on the right, and on the left, wherever it is targeted.”

“Thank you, Congressman Gottheimer, for everything you’re doing to fight anti-Semitism, to fight hate, to safeguard the United States and our allies, including Israel, and to safeguard the Jewish people around the world,” said U.S. Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism Elan Carr said today. “I am truly blessed to have bipartisan support in Congress on this — great allies on both sides of the aisle — who understand that the fight against Jew hatred isn’t a matter of party or politics — it is policy, and it has to be the policy of the United States — and that’s why I’m so grateful for the commitment to this cause that is continuously, daily exhibited by Congressman Josh Gottheimer.”

“The fact is that Iran has done their very best to undermine peace in the Middle East, including launching a ballistic missile inscribed with the slogan ‘Israel should be wiped off the Earth.’ Congressman Gottheimer and I have worked together successfully in the past to pass the U.S.-Israel Joint Missile Defense Act, and I’m confident that this bill will be another great bipartisan step toward preventing Iranian aggression against Israel and the United States,” said Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18), the cosponsor of the bipartisan U.S.-Israel Common Defense Authorization Act.

Video of the announcement can be found HERE.

Gottheimer’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are below.

Today, I am very glad to welcome an old and dear friend, a long-time leader in the American Jewish community, and a real mensch — the United States’ Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism, Elan Carr.

Elan and I are both here today to talk about the importance of the fight against anti-Semitism wherever it exists — both here at home and abroad — on social media and in our communities — and why we must, in that same vein, continue to stand by and support our strategic, historic ally that’s critical to America’s national security — the only democracy in the Middle East — Israel.  

Elan and I sat on the AEPi Foundation board together, we worked hard to combat anti-Semitism and strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship, and he is doing an excellent job in leading our fight against bias, hatred, and intolerance on the world stage.

Special Envoy Carr’s position sends a strong message to the entire world about our government’s commitment to fighting anti-Semitism globally, especially now, when we are living in tumultuous times. Anti-Semitism is on rise here at home and around the world, especially with the explosion of social media, an issue we will be discussing today.  

The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) most recent annual report on anti-Semitic incidents — which took a look at this past calendar year — stated that anti-Semitic incidents rose 73% in New Jersey in 2019, reaching 345 total incidents — the most ever recorded in the state and the second–highest number recorded in any state across the country last year. 

And we’re seeing hate and violent extremism tick up on social media as well. The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) has assessed that nearly every one of the U.S. State Department’s 69 designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations has a social media presence. 

We’ve also seen recently how Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Hamas are soliciting cryptocurrency donations from around the world to fund their acts of hate and terror. Recently, federal authorities seized millions of dollars in cryptocurrency from major foreign terrorist groups, as well as about 300 cryptocurrency accounts associated with this online fundraising campaign, and four websites and four Facebook pages used to solicit funds.

As these threats all continue to rise — both here at home and abroad, as well as both online and in our own backyards — this is why I have been working closely with important partners including the FBI and the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, as well as local law enforcement, community groups, and faith leaders, to fight hate at every level, from lone wolf, homegrown ISIS inspired terrorism to white supremacist groups targeting in our communities.  

We have taken action on several fronts. 

First, to directly protect our towns, since I was sworn in, we have clawed more $4.1 million back to the Fifth District from the Nonprofit Security Grant Program — to ensure our synagogues, yeshivas, Jewish Community Centers, and all of our houses of worship are protected from new and increasing threats of terror. It’s in our schools, it’s on campaign signs, including mine, and it’s increasingly found in the public debate. We must stand up to anti-Semitism whenever and wherever we see it, including to the burgeoning BDS movement at our college campuses. 

It’s alarming, and we must act. 

This is why I was especially proud that earlier this year, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus helped pass the Never Again Education Act out of the House with overwhelming bipartisan support. This will create a new federal program to ensure teachers across the country have the resources and training necessary to teach our nation’s children the important lessons of the Holocaust and the horrific consequences of hate and intolerance.  

Second, we must fight homegrown hate and anti-Semitism wherever it exists in our communities. Yesterday, I joined the ADL and the New Jersey Department of Homeland Security to reiterate the importance of fighting white supremacists and extremism in all forms here in the Fifth District. In recent years, we have seen a significant spike in homegrown terrorist groups, as designated by the state, including radical, anti-government, racist, anti-law enforcement, anti-Catholic, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic groups like the Three Percenters, QAnon, and the Oath Keepers. We must stomp them out. 

Among others, the Oath Keepers have been actively recruiting in our state since 2012. They’ve been designated as a domestic terrorism threat, and they have a record of blatant discrimination, racism, and anti-Semitism, and of promoting anti-government and anti-law enforcement activity. 

And following recent reports of sightings of Proud Boys, I led a letter with fellow New Jersey Congressman Tom Malinowski and the majority of the New Jersey House Delegation urging the FBI to counter the rise of this hate group.

Here in New Jersey, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP) has increased the threat posed by white supremacist extremists from “moderate” to “high” in 2020, joining homegrown violent extremists as the most persistent hostile actors in New Jersey. 

Like many people, I’ve been tracking the QAnon movement and the threat these sorts of conspiracy movements pose to our society. QAnon is a despicable conspiracy theory and misinformation campaign with loud and clear anti-Semitic overtones. Many of its supporters have reinvigorated age-old anti-Semitic tropes about the existence of a “globalist cabal,” and the blood libel. I was proud to be an original cosponsor of a bipartisan resolution which passed the House condemning this movement, which the FBI and ADL have both warned about.

NJOHSP has also been monitoring anti-government militia groups like the Three Percenters, which have been active in New Jersey and I’m concerned these threats will increase as we near the close of the election.

Third, as I mentioned earlier, we are increasingly seeing a flood of hate, misinformation, and virulent anti-Semitism online. 

According to recent reports, on Twitter and Facebook alone, 1.7 million anti-Semitic posts were shared in the first eight months of this year. It is crystal clear that these social media companies must do more to clean up their act and eliminate hate from their platforms.

Just this month, under Elan’s leadership, the State Department hosted the first-ever U.S. Government conference focused on combatting online anti-Semitism. 

This conference brought together experts from around the globe, together with government officials and representatives of social media companies, to combat the torrent of anti-Semitic content online.

I was pleased to see that Facebook recently announced changes to its policy regarding hate speech as a result and has decided to ban Holocaust denial pages. However, we need all social media companies to follow suit and do much more. 

Last year, I successfully led a bipartisan charge, calling on Twitter to suspend content affiliated with Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), including Hamas and Hezbollah, from its platform. The official English and Arabic language accounts of several terrorist movements were taken down, but a great deal of content remains, and some accounts have even resurfaced, and we expect Twitter and others to be a cop on the beat. Recently, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Hamas have been soliciting cryptocurrency donations from around the world to fund their activities, and they’re using online tools and social media accounts to solicit these funds. That is why we must remain vigilant.

To help attack this at every angle, I recently announced an online arsenal against terrorism — to protect our nation against terrorist organizations that continue to evolve and innovate and threaten us in new ways. This included work towards new legislation that will require regular disclosure of the presence of FTOs fundraising on social media, as well as financial and criminal penalties for any social media company that knowingly permits accounts tied to designated terrorist groups to solicit support and resources on its platform. 

The House also recently passed bipartisan legislation that included my provision requiring the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of State, to report to Congress on the use of social media by FTOs and the threat posed to U.S. national security by online radicalization.

To fully address these threats online, we need every tool available to fight back.

Fourth, like we’re doing online, we need to continue combatting anti-Semitic threats around the world, including those who are promoting BDS and, of course, those like Iran who are encouraging terrorist and other aggressive action against our strategic allies. In the middle east, that means we must stand protect our historic and vital relationship with Israel.

Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East, our most critical ally in the region, key to our fight against terror, and to America’s national security. As such, I remain fully committed to ensuring our ally Israel can defend itself from those who wish it harm, and why I have worked across the aisle to protect  our ironclad commitment to Israel’ security under the 2016 U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with no new conditions, why I’ve fought to fund the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow 3 missile defense programs, and why I’ve recently pushed for cooperation to fight the threat of killer Drones. 

The recent announcement of normalization of relations between Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, and the promise of ties with Sudan are, positive developments toward peace and stability in the Middle East.

For many decades, Israel has been unfairly singled out on the world’s stage and stigmatized by too many who have refused to accept the existence and legitimacy of the Jewish state. Today, however, the leading democracy in the Middle East is increasingly recognized as a regional powerhouse, and a critical partner in the fight against terrorism and other adversaries.

These historic agreements also present an opportunity for the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table and forge a lasting agreement. The United States must continue its strong, bipartisan support for our ally Israel’s security, and play a leading role in bringing together both sides for peace.

At the same time, we must also reinforce and preserve Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge in the region. There should be absolutely no doubt that our ally Israel must be prepared for every contingency if Iran seeks to pursue a nuclear weapon. 

That’s why today, I am proud to announce that, this week, I will be introducing new bipartisan legislation with my friend and colleague, Republican Congressman Brian Mast of Florida — the U.S.-Israel Common Defense Authorization Act. 

This bill will help shore up Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME) in the region and secure both of our countries from the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran by: 

1) Ensuring the United States will continue to support Israel’s security as Iran increases nuclear enrichment;

2) Requiring the Department of Defense (DOD) to consult with Israel and report to Congress on Israel’s capability to deter a full range of threats, including whether transferring “bunker buster” munitions capable of taking out Iran’s underground nuclear infrastructure would advance the both countries’ security; and

3) Preserving Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region while reaffirming the credibility of the U.S. military to deter Iran. 

I’m proud to be introducing this new bipartisan bill to defend Israel from Iran and Hezbollah and reinforce our historic ally’s qualitative military edge. Iran and its terrorist proxies throughout the region must never be able to threaten the U.S. or Israel with a nuclear weapon.

And, truly, there should be nothing partisan about our national security, nor our relationship with our ally Israel. 

Finally, let me say this: The scourge of anti-Semitism has infected human societies for centuries. It is the hatred of Jews — drawn from simple words, ideas, and stories — which has led to violent pogroms, the slaughter of six million Jews in the Holocaust, the murder of eleven Americans praying in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the shooting at a synagogue in Poway, California, and the attack on a kosher grocery in Jersey City just ten months back. 

We cannot allow these ideas to fester, to go unchecked, or to be further embraced, either here at home, or abroad, online or offline. We must continue to act to address anti-Semitism and hate wherever and whenever we see it — on the right, and on the left, wherever it is targeted. 

When we let people spew hatred, when we let other countries around the world turn a blind eye to rising anti-Semitism, and we let our fundamental values slip away.

The recent resurgence of nativism only underscores the vital importance of the Special Envoy’s mandate and the urgency of our need to combat global anti-Semitism, and all forms of bigotry, hatred and intolerance. 

I am now very proud to introduce my friend, Special Envoy Elan Carr.

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