November 03, 2023

Rep. Watson Coleman Statement on House Resolution 798

Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman released the following statement regarding her vote on House Resolution 798:

I’m deeply disturbed by the sharp rise in anti-semitism in recent years and particularly since the horrific attacks by Hamas on Israel on October 7th and the resulting hostilities. In recent weeks, I’ve spoken to Jewish leaders in the 12th District and beyond about the fears of members of the Jewish Community. Our Jewish neighbors are scared. They are worried for the safety of their children and their relatives; here and abroad. Some have even resorted to hiding outward expressions of their faith. 

The anti-semitic harassment of our Jewish neighbors is not acceptable. This extends to places of higher learning. New Jersey has a proud tradition of fostering college campuses that thrive on diverse student bodies and a diversity of opinion. It has created a richer, more vibrant democracy. We’ve endeavored to create an environment in which free expression and robust debate are celebrated. That very ideal depends upon the creation of an environment where students feel free to express themselves without fear of harassment or attack.

Rising anti-semitism on college campuses is appalling. We must condemn it clearly and take a serious and measured approach to combating it. House Resolution 798 does not meet this standard.

While H. Res. 798, which was passed on the House floor last night, contained important sentiments condemning anti-semitism, it also included detrimental factual errors and failed to meet the standard of fighting anti-semitism and misinformation. It falsely implied that instances of anti-semitism have gone unchallenged by university administrators, which is untrue for each specific incident listed. The incidents at Stanford, Cornell, and George Washington University were each reported and investigated, resulting in disciplinary action and denouncement from each institution. Perhaps most harmfully, the student senate at Brandeis, whose larger student union released a statement condemning Hamas, is listed in this resolution a perpetrator of anti-semitism.

The Republican-authored bill notably deviated from the bipartisan Rosen-Blackburn resolution condemning campus anti-semitism which passed the Senate unanimously last week. 

Representative Molinaro’s bipartisan resolution, of which I am a cosponsor, better acknowledges the rise in anti-semitic incidents across the country. I am also supporting the bipartisan Kustoff-Wasserman Schultz resolution focusing on anti-semitism on campuses, which contains the exact same language as that which passed the Senate with unanimous support. 

At a time of such heightened emotions and stress, Congress must hold itself to a standard of accuracy that does not contribute to increased division or continued trauma.  Unsurprisingly the rise of hateful rhetoric, including the recent uptick in anti-semitic and Islamophobic language, can be attributed, in part, to the increased dissemination of misinformation across many modes of communication. It is unacceptable and unfair to the American people for legislation passed by the House of Representatives to be one of those vehicles of unfactual, biased, or misrepresented information. 

Anti-semitism has no place in America and I will continue to fight to ensure our country and our state is a place in which everyone can worship safely and peacefully.