In his 37 years as a Congressman, Rep. Chris Smith has been unmatched among legislators in his leadership in fighting anti-Semitism and has been a strong supporter of Israel.
In 1982, during Smith’s first term in Congress, the first piece of legislation he authored to pass the House was H.Res. 269, “Calling Upon the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to Permit the Emigration of Yuli Kosharovsky and His Immediate Family to Israel.” His first official trips abroad as a Member of Congress were to the former Soviet Union on behalf of persecuted Jewish refuseniks. During the period of 1982-1989, Smith traveled to Moscow, Leningrad, and Perm Camp 35 in the Soviet Gulag to meet Jewish refuseniks, their family members, and Soviet leaders – and to fight for the release and emigration visas for the refuseniks.
In 1996, Smith chaired the first congressional hearings on anti-Semitism and the most effective ways to fight it. Following his 2002 landmark hearing on combating the escalation of anti-Semitic violence in Europe, “Escalating Anti-Semitic Violence in Europe,” he led a congressional drive to place the issue of combating anti-Semitism firmly at the top of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) agenda. The OSCE is an intergovernmental organization that promotes military security and human rights among the 57 countries of Europe and northern Asia.
As a result of Rep. Smith’s efforts, the OSCE passed Smith’s major resolutions on anti-Semitism and in 2004 in Berlin, the OSCE adopted binding commitments to document and fight instances of anti-Semitism. Within the OSCE, Smith has kept up the fight against those who would water down or ignore these norms—by regularly proposing and securing passage of resolutions and amendatory language at Annual Sessions of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, and promoting and participating in the 2014 Berlin +10 Review Conference. In 2016, he authored amendments that were adopted by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly that called for explicit recognition of the increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the OSCE region, and on participating States to formally recognize and partner with Jewish community security groups. In 2017, he authored amendments adopted by the assembly that commended the working definition of anti-Semitism and called on participating States to adopt it at their annual meeting. In 2018, Smith authored amendments that condemned increasing incidents of anti-Semitism and called on countries to clearly define anti-Semitism and more effectively prosecute hate crimes.
In 2007 Smith became a founding member of the Interparliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism, of which he continues to serve on the Steering Committee. The ICCA brings together Parliamentarians from around the world to lead the fight against resurgent global anti-Semitism by sharing knowledge and experience, best practices, and making recommendations on how governments must deal more effectively with contemporary anti-Semitism. In 2009 and 2010 Rep. Smith gave keynote addresses at the ICCA London and Ottawa conferences.
In recent years Rep. Smith has focused his legislative efforts on fighting anti-Semitism on improving the security of Jewish communities abroad, strengthening the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, and, within the OSCE, working for greater implementation of the commitments assumed in 2004, promoting wider acceptance of the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism, and exposing and condemning the anti-Semitic nature of much European opposition to Israel.
In 2004 Smith also authored the legislative provisions that created the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism in the U.S. State Department. In 2017, he introduced legislation, H.R. 1911, the “Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act of 2017”, which would upgrade the Special Envoy position—which heads the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism—to an Ambassador position. The bill passed House of Representatives 393-2 in September of 2018.
Since the Paris and Copenhagen attacks of 2015, Smith has focused on promoting a vigorous response to the threat that jihadist terrorism poses to the European Jewish communities. He authored House Resolution 354, a blueprint for strengthening the safety and security of European Jewish communities, and which passed the House of Representatives unanimously in November 2015. In 2016 Rep. Smith held a hearing to promote executive branch action on the resolution, and in 2017 Smith held a hearing on “Anti-Semitism Across Borders.”
Rep. Smith has been unequivocal in his support of Israel—without any illusions as to the genocidal intentions of its enemies. He has consistently voted and spoken out vigorously in support of U.S. aid to Israel, including security aid and support for Iron Dome. He voted against the Iran nuclear deal framework, and has supported Israel in its struggle against Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations without any ‘ifs,’ or ‘buts,’ or ‘so long as,’ or any other qualifiers. In 2018 he voted in favor of measures that would strengthen sanctions against the Iranian regime and prevent the administration from offering more concessions to the mullahs to induce compliance with the nuclear deal.
As the Chairman of the Human Rights Subcommittee and a recognized international leader on human rights issues, Rep. Smith has, in his support for Israel, emphasized that Israel’s state enemies sponsor terrorism and anti-Semitism. Rep. Smith understands how poor human rights records, terrorism, and anti-Semitism are entwined and that the U.S. must stand unflinchingly with Israel—precisely because Israel defends human rights, and its enemies are the most notorious enemies of human rights and human dignity.
Rep Smith co-chairs the Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism in the U.S. House of Representatives since the Task Force was created in 2015.
He has authored six laws, bills and resolutions and chaired nine hearings on fighting anti-Semitism:
2018 Authored H.R. 1911, the “Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act of 2017”, which passed House of Representatives 393-2.
2015 Authored House Resolution 354, “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the safety and security of Jewish communities in Europe.” Passed 418-0 by the House of Representatives.
2004 Authored the provisions of the “Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004” that established the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism in the U.S. State Department and the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.
2003 Authored House Concurrent Resolution 49, “Expressing the sense of the Congress that the sharp escalation of anti-Semitic violence within many participating States of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is of profound concern and efforts should be undertaken to prevent future occurrences.” Passed 412-0 by the House of Representatives.
1999 Authored House Concurrent Resolution 37, “Concerning anti-Semitic statements made by members of the Duma of the Russian Federation.” Passed 421-0 by House of Representatives.
1982 Authored House Resolution 269, “Calling Upon the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to Permit the Emigration of Yuli Kosharovsky and His Immediate Family to Israel.” Passed by voice vote. This was the first resolution or bill authored by Rep. Smith that passed the House of Representatives.
March 21, 2017 “Anti-Semitism Across Borders”.
April 19, 2016 “Anticipating and Preventing Deadly Attacks on European Jewish Communities”.
March 24, 2015 “After Paris and Copenhagen: Responding to the Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism.”
February 27, 2013 “Anti-Semitism: A Growing Threat to All Faiths.”
December 2, 2011 “Combating Anti-Semitism in the OSCE Region: Taking Stock of the Situation Today.”
May 9, 2006 “Tools for Combating Anti-Semitism: Police Training and Holocaust Education.”
June 16, 2004 “Government Actions to Combat Anti-Semitism in the OSCE Region.”
May 22, 2002 “Escalating Anti-Semitic Violence in Europe.”
February 27, 1996 “Worldwide Persecution of Jews.”
SMITH-AUTHORED OSCE AMENDMENTS AND RESOLUTIONS
July 9, 2017 Authored amendments that were adopted by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in its final declaration at its annual session, commending the working definition of anti-Semitism and calling for participating States to adopt it at their annual meeting.
July 3, 2016 Authored amendments that were adopted by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in its final declaration at its annual session, calling for explicit recognition of the increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the OSCE region, and on participating States to formally recognize and partner with Jewish community security groups.
July 9, 2004 Authored Supplementary Resolution on “Fulfilling OSCE Commitments Regarding the Fight Against Facism, Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia.” Passed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) at a meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland.
July 9, 2003 Authored Supplementary Resolution on “Combating Anti-Semitism in the 21st Century.” Passed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) at a meeting in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
July 7, 2002 Authored Supplementary Resolution on “Anti-Semitic Violence in the OSCE Region.” Passed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) at a meeting in Berlin, Germany.
SMITH’S INTERNATIONAL ADDRESSES AND MEETINGS
November 8, 2010 Keynote address to Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism, Ottawa Conference.
February 16, 2009 Keynote address to Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism, London Conference.
December 10, 2002 Chaired an inter-Parliamentary Forum of the U.S. Helsinki Commission on Confronting and Combating Anti-Semitism in the OSCE Region. Hosted international meeting of parliamentarians and human rights advocates pledging to expand joint cooperation in OSCE Parliamentary Assembly to promote specific initiatives to confront and combat anti-Semitism in the OSCE region.