AJC New England 2020 Candidate Survey: Question 5
Question 5: Antisemitism and violence against Jews are on the rise around the world. According to the FBI’s most recent Hate Crimes Statistics report, in 2018 anti-Jewish hate crimes accounted for 57% of all religiously motivated hate crimes. Nearly one third of respondents in a recent AJC survey of American Jews reported having been afraid to wear something in public that identifies them as Jews. To address this problem, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance drafted a “Working Definition” of antisemitism, which has been adopted in dozens of countries in Europe (including Germany, France, and the UK) and endorsed by UN Secretary General Gutierrez and the US Department of State. This definition provides a means for assessing when given actions may involve bias against Jews, thereby reducing confusion and providing a basis for constructive action. Will you go on record to endorse the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism?
Yes, I will endorse the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism. As an American Jew, I saw antisemitism up close as a kid. And now, we all see it bolstered and enflamed during the Trump Administration, during which cemeteries have been vandalized, Jews have been murdered in synagogues and homes, and the President initially refused to condemn those participating in a neo-Nazi march. This antisemitism and white supremacy is representative of centuries of oppression that Jews have endured and continue to endure. I lost family members in the Holocaust, have family in Israel, including some who have made Aliyah, and visited the country half a dozen times, including to see my father, a university professor, receive an honorary degree at Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1997.
I have been involved with the Anti-Defamation League for years and also worked in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office to promote our hate crimes hotline. I also worked with our Civil Rights Division on protecting vulnerable communities, and served as a liaison to Jewish congregations and communities in the aftermath of the Tree of Life mass shooting and the rise of antisemitic incidents in this country. I know how to stand up every single day in Congress against antisemitism. That work begins by adopting the definition proposed by the IHRA. As American Jews, we must always stand up for ourselves and for Jews all around the world.
The recent rise of anti-Semitism here at home and around the world is heartbreaking, alarming, and a threat to the safety and well-being of Jews here in America and around the world. We have an obligation to combat and root out anti-Semitism in all forms, and I will use my bully pulpit in Congress to address and forcefully speak out against anti-Semitism. I wholeheartedly endorse the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism and hope to see more and more countries around the world adopt this definition as well.
Yes, I endorse the IHRA definition of anti-semitism.
Absolutely. Antisemitism must be condemned in all its forms, and its concerning reemergence in recent years must be combatted at the local, state, and federal levels. We cannot tolerate discrimination of any kind, and we must take special care to fight the kind of demonization that has unjustly vilified Jewish communities around the world for centuries.
Progressive tax reform should address spiraling inequality by ensuring that the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share. First, I believe Congress should eliminate loopholes that shield capital gains from taxes. Second, I believe the richest Americans should contribute more in the form of a wealth tax. I would also support legislation to close loopholes that allow income to be earned or wealth to be stored “offshore” in order to avoid taxes. Finally, I believe that corporations should pay their fair share. I support efforts to reverse the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), specifically the provision that lowers the tax rate on corporate profits.
Anti-semitism is not new but it has been reinvigorated in recent years with an increase in anti-semitic rhetoric and acts of violence. Acts of anti-semitism are on the rise here in Massachusetts and there are reports of spikes due to COVID-19 conspiracy theories fueled by an out of control White House occupant. Politicians of both parties must be thoughtful and precise with the words they use in discussing Jewish issues, including Israel. In Congress, I would support legislation such as the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act to improve data collection on hate crimes, overhaul state and local crime reporting systems, establish hate crime reporting hotlines, encourage law enforcement policies on identifying, investigating, and reporting hate crimes, and create education programs and community service programs for those convicted of hate crimes. The IHRA offers a thoughtful, well-researched definition of anti-Semitism, one that I personally use when thinking about what anti-semitism looks like. I believe it should be an important part of our discussions aimed at understanding and counteracting this unique form of hatred.
Regarding inquiries 1-9, I plan to work with US Government Officials, Institutions and other subject matter experts to work towards addressing these important topics.
Yes! This is an integral part of my Anti-Semitism platform which you can view at bensigelforcongress.com/anti-Semitism. I have also met with many members of the Diplomatic Corps and Congress to advocate for countries to adopt the IHRA definition of Anti-Semitism.
American Jewish Committee (AJC) is the leading organization dedicated to Jewish advocacy at home and around the world. Through a global network comprised of 24 domestic regional offices; 12 overseas posts in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East; and 37 partnerships with international Jewish communities, AJC engages with political, religious and civic leaders to combat antisemitism and bigotry, support Israel’s quest for peace and security, and advance democratic values at home and abroad.
AJC New England recently invited all 11 Republican and Democratic declared candidates for the Congressional seat from the 4th District of Massachusetts to participate in a survey on some matters of import to our community.
AJC is a 501(c)(3) non-partisan organization and does not endorse or support any candidate for elected office, whether or not they responded to the survey. We offer this survey to educate the electorate about the views of the candidates for this office.