On Remembrance Day, US House overwhelmingly passes Holocaust education bill

Jan 28, 2020
In The News

WASHINGTON — The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation on Monday to allocate $10 million in federal funding over five years to further Holocaust education.

Authored by New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, the Never Again Education Act would direct millions of dollars toward expanding the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s education program, supporting a website with curriculum materials for teachers, and hosting workshops in Holocaust education and awareness throughout the country.

The bill’s passage came on International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

 “I can think of no better way to honor the memories of those murdered than to make sure our students know their names and their stories,” said Maloney, a Democrat. “If we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. I urge the Senate to act quickly on this bill.”

The bill passed by a vote of 393-5.

Democratic presidential candidate and Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard did not cast a vote either way, while Michigan Independent Congressman Justin Amash voted against the bill.

The legislation was widely supported by the organized American Jewish community.

“We are pleased that the House has taken action today, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, to ensure that the lessons of the Holocaust will be passed from one generation to the next,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League.

“We look forward to this law’s swift passage and to working closely with teachers and districts across the country to ensure that Holocaust education is uniform and consistent across the country.”

The Never Again Education Act now heads to the Senate. If passed by the upper chamber, it will go to the president for his signature. US President Donald Trump has not, as of this writing, taken a position on the bill.

The Jewish women’s group Haddassah encouraged senators to support the proposal.

“Today’s historic vote is a turning point in America’s commitment to combating hatred, bigotry and anti-Semitism. The House has affirmed the value of Holocaust education and made a commitment to building more tolerant communities,” said Janice Weinman, the CEO and executive director of the organization.

“Educators deserve our full support in their efforts to instill the Holocaust’s universal and timeless lessons in every generation. We congratulate Congresswoman Maloney for leading this fight and thank the House for its bipartisan support in approving the Never Again Education Act.”

Rabbi Chuck Diamond, center, a former rabbi at the Tree of Life Synagogue, hugs a woman after leading a Shabbat service outside the Tree of Life Synagogue, Saturday, November 3, 2018 in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

A major study released last week showed that most American adults possess a general understanding of the Holocaust, but many in the US do not know basic facts about the slaughter of Europe’s Jews by Nazi Germany.

The survey by the Pew Research Center found that a majority of American adults do not know that approximately six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust or that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler came to power via democratic elections.

Recent data from the ADL showed that anti-Semitic incidents are soaring in the United States. In 2018 alone, there were 1,879 recorded anti-Semitic episodes, according to the Jewish civil-rights organization, 13 percent of which were carried out by white supremacists. That includes the Tree of Life synagogue shooting, which killed 11 people, the deadliest-ever anti-Semitic attack on American soil.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cited that recent history as one of the reasons she supported the legislation.

“As the world solemnly commemorates 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz, we all must renew our commitment to educating the world about the horrors of the Holocaust and the dangers of bigotry and hate today,” she said in a statement. “The urgency of Holocaust education is greater than ever now, as we see a surge of appalling anti-Semitic and other hate crimes being perpetrated both in America and around the world.”