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Watch Senator Casey's full remarks HERE


Washington D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) delivered a floor speech raising alarm about the rise of antisemitism in the United States. In his remarks, Senator Casey also reflected on his recent visit to the Tree of Life Synagogue building in Pittsburgh.

Full text of Senator Casey’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

I rise today, during this week when Hanukkah—the Festival of Lights—is being celebrated, to speak about the evil of antisemitism and the trauma and darkness it causes in America.

This past November 18, I visited the site of the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in all of American history: the Tree of Life Synagogue building in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

A killer, full of hate, entered the synagogue during Shabbat morning service on October 27, 2018, and massacred 11 Pennsylvanians from three Jewish congregations and injured six others, including four law enforcement officers who had responded in just minutes.

Those Jewish Americans who died ranged in age from 54 to 97.

Visiting the site four years later was both moving and disturbing as we walked through a house of worship frozen in time from that awful day.

The venomous hate that motivated the killer to take so many lives in a murderous rampage was unabated when he was arrested. He was making antisemitic statements, even as he was apprehended and treated by first responders.

The evil that attacked the Jewish worshippers in Pittsburgh that dark day is the same evil that targets Americans based on their race and gender, or whom they love or how they worship.

Too often, unlike any other nation in this world, this evil, this hate—coupled with the easy availability of powerful weapons—results in the mass shootings, such as those at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, Pulse nightclub in Orlando, a Wal-Mart in El Paso, a grocery store in Buffalo and Club Q in Colorado Springs.

The following data should alarm every American:

In 2022, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) published an Audit of Antisemitic Incidents and reported over 2,700 antisemitic incidents throughout the United States in 2021. This is a 34 percent increase from 2020 and the highest number on record since ADL began tracking incidents in 1979.

The rise of hate is further documented by Congressional testimony from FBI Director Christopher Wray.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in August of 2022, Director Wray stated that the “top domestic terrorism threat we face continues to be from domestic violent extremists we categorize as Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists.”

Director Wray later highlighted that the number of FBI investigations of suspected domestic violent extremists had more than doubled since the spring of 2020.

This continued an upward trend, when Director Wray testified in March 2021 that investigations had also doubled since 2017 to more than 2,000 investigations, and that the number of investigations into white supremacists had tripled.

Furthermore, on December 12th, the FBI released its annual hate crime report and reported over 7,200 hate crime incidents in 2021—the third largest number in the past decade.

This number is even more shocking considering the massive undercounting and lack of data used to compile the report, which the FBI readily acknowledged.

Due to the transition to a new reporting system, only about two-thirds of police departments across the Nation—a significant drop from last year—reported data.

Some states—such as Florida and California—had almost no reporting, with only two jurisdictions in Florida and 15 in California sending data. Unfortunately, my home state of Pennsylvania was not far behind with just 41 agencies reporting data to the FBI.

Several major cities—including New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago—did not provide any statistics or simply reported zero.

While the underreporting is a concern and must be addressed, it is even more concerning that we would have likely seen record-high reports of hate crimes across the Nation had police departments participated at similar levels as in prior years.

The data is further reinforced by the lived experiences of too many Americans across this Nation.

By way of one example, in a Wall Street Journal article from December 15, 2022 entitled “Antisemitism on the Rise at Colleges,” a student at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey spoke of needing to take indirect routes to class and hiding her Star of David necklace under her shirt to avoid harassment from other students.

Citing the ADL’s Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, which I mentioned earlier, this article noted that vandalism, threats, and slurs on college campuses directed at Jewish students has more than tripled from 41 in 2014 to 155 in 2021.

Every incident fueled by hate and extremism does not result in death. Often, as evidenced by the example in the Wall Street Journal, hateful acts involve vandalism, destruction of property, bullying or harassment.

These acts are the manifestation of evil as well.

Incidents involving such hate, deadly or not, are contrary to American

values, including the values inherent in the inscription on our currency: “e pluribus unum” or “from many, one.”

One Nation is strengthened by our diversity.

People of different ethnicities, faiths and points of view have come together over generations to build our democracy and the most powerful Nation on earth.

Any American who claims to support the American values that our people hold dear while engaging in acts that constitute antisemitism is a hypocrite and a threat to all of us.

It is a disgusting perversion of Christianity to make antisemitic or other hateful statements, or, worse, to act violently against someone because they are Jewish, or transgender or of a different race.

From the parable of the Good Samaritan to the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught us how to love and respect all those we meet on the road of life.

Antisemitism, racism and other hateful ideologies are contrary to values inherent in all religions.

Each of us as citizens has a moral, civic obligation to speak out against antisemitism and racism.

Those who are public officials or public figures have a heightened obligation—a duty—to condemn categorically antisemitic acts, rhetoric or other conduct, whether those acts, rhetoric or conduct involve a former President, a recording artist, an athlete or any other American.

Of course, the United States Senate must speak with one voice against antisemitism and racism, here at home and around the world.

The Senate acted in 2021 to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act after the rise of hate crimes against Asian-Americans during the pandemic, but that cannot be the end of our action.

This is why I was proud to support the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act when Senate Democrats tried to pass it in May after the racially-motivated mass shooting in Buffalo.

I was also pleased that on December 12, the Biden administration announced a new interagency task force charged with developing and coordinating a national strategy to counter antisemitism and other forms of bias and discrimination in the United States.

This announcement followed in response to a December 5th letter that I joined, along with 124 bipartisan colleagues in the House and the Senate,

calling on President Biden to take a “whole-of-government approach” to address the “scourge of antisemitism,” including establishing an interagency task force.

I stand ready to continue to work with my colleagues in the new Congress to ensure that we are taking the steps necessary to combat this growing threat of hate and extremism.

But even in these dark times, it is critical to hold up and recognize those who are lighting the path forward to ending identity-based hate.

The Tree of Life community is not merely lighting the path forward for Pittsburgh, but for the Nation and the world by coming together to establish the REMEMBER. REBUILD. RENEW. campaign.

In the City of Bridges, as Pittsburgh is known throughout the world, it is fitting that Tree of Life is trying to connect communities across the world as a leader in the fight against antisemitism and other forms of identity-based hate.

Rooted in honoring and remembering those who tragically lost their lives on October 27, 2018, the community will repair and preserve the Tree of Life building as a historic synagogue, while establishing a museum, memorial, and educational center to inspire and empower those to stand up against antisemitism.

Never before have we seen such a transformative, multidisciplinary approach under one roof, and on such hallowed ground, to bring people together in our fight against hate and antisemitism.

As Rabbi Meyers shared with me, Tree of Life is striving to transform the site of tragedy into one of hope and inspiration for future generations to come. It is striving to fulfill the longstanding Jewish concept of tikkun olam (TEE-KUN OL-UM) – to “repair the world.”

Through remembrance and renewal, Tree of Life is lighting the way forward for all of us to finally counter the root causes of hate and end, once and for all, antisemitism.

We owe it to every survivor, family member and the community members impacted to join them on this important journey.

May the memories of the victims be for a blessing.