Holocaust Education Bill Awaits President's Signature

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING THURSDAY MAY 28, 2020

Legislation aimed at increasing education about the Holocaust is headed to President Donald Trump’s desk this week. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, served as a co-sponsor on the bill, which is expected to become law.

“This funding and training would help educators teach young Americans of the Holocaust’s atrocities,” Buchanan said. “The increase of anti-Semitism that we have seen in Florida and across the country is unacceptable. We must deny the purveyors of anti-Semitism the opportunity to spread this hate among our students.”

Jewish leaders in the Sarasota region echoed similar sentiments.

“You can’t pass legislation against racism and anti-Semitism,” said Howard Tevlowitz, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee. “You have to teach.”

Buchanan’s office cited a 2018 study from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany with the startling finding that 22% of U.S. millennials have not heard of or are unsure they ever heard of the Holocaust, the attempted extermination of the Jewish people orchestrated by Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler.

The Never Again Education Act dedicated funding through the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for high school and middle school resources to ensure no one leaves school without learning about the historic genocide.

That in turn could reverse a trend in growing anti-Jewish sentiment, Tevlowitz hopes. “There are issues all over this country with people making anti-Semitics statement or slurs and really no outrage,” he said. “In Europe, it has metastasized into a cancer again.”

And an Anti-Defamation League survey shows that in the Middle East and North Africa, 74% of individuals polled openly express anti-Semitic attitudes.

The League found there was a 20% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in Florida in 2019, Buchanan’s office reports, with both harassment and physical assaults on the rise. Locally, the Jewish Federation recently hired a security director to deal with threats to all Jewish congregation areas in the region. And the Federation’s campus has had multiple incidents in the last couple months of threats there.

But he counts the local Federation lucky to be in a community widely accepting. “We are lucky also to live in a community where we enjoy great relationships within the faith community,” he said. “We haven’t seen it rearing its ugly head institutionally. It’s more individually.”

Photo from Pixabay: Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Germany.

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