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Reps. Boyle, Ros-Lehtinen, Deutch, and Fitzpatrick Introduce Bipartisan Legislation Supporting Holocaust Education Nationwide

April 25, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC–  Today, Congressman Brendan F. Boyle (PA-13), joined by Reps. Ros-Lehtinen, Deutch, and Fitzpatrick, introduced legislation (H.Res. 276) expressing congressional support for states that require Holocaust awareness curricula, and hope that more states adopt legislation similar to that which has been enacted or introduced in a number of states, including Pennsylvania and Florida. The resolution is endorsed by AJC, the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, B’nai B’rith International, HIAS, the Holocaust Awareness Institute, the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center, the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Southern Poverty Law Center, and the World Jewish Restitution Organization.
 
Currently, eight states require public schools to develop curricula that include education on the atrocities of the Holocaust. The lawmakers believe that all states nationwide should follow this example and educate American children about the Holocaust, so that younger generations learn about the horrors of the Holocaust, the hatred that led to it, and how to avoid its repetition. This is also a time of heightened anti-Semitism worldwide, which threatens democratic principles. The districts represented by Boyle, Ros-Lehtinen, Deutch, and Fitzpatrick are home to many Holocaust survivors.
 
“Before we started this fight, the number of Pennsylvania college students who’d attended public high schools and did not know basic details of the Holocaust was appalling,” said Congressman Boyle (D, PA-13). “Thanks to the tireless efforts of statewide activists, we were able to pass legislation in Pennsylvania that effectively mandated the education of the Shoah. Now it is time for the U.S. Congress to lend its support for the rest of the nation to keep up this momentum. We cannot learn from and correct our mistakes without an honest look at our history.”
 
“Santayana’s old saying goes, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ Education and information are the most important weapons available in the fight to prevent anything similar to the Holocaust from happening again. I’m proud to join with a bipartisan group of leaders in advocating for access to this vital information and doing our part to ensure ‘Never Again,’” said Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R, PA-8).
 
"I'm proud to introduce this important resolution along with my friends and colleagues, Brendan, Ted, and Brian, to ensure that children around the country learn about the horrors of the Holocaust. This genocidal act targeted millions of Jews and others in a murderous campaign of hatred that had never before been seen in world history. We must work to make sure that our nation will never forget this heinous act committed against innocent people by the Nazi regime," said Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R, FL-27).
 
“I’m proud that my home state of Florida has long recognized the value of Holocaust education by mandating that all school districts incorporate a Holocaust curriculum,” said Congressman Deutch (D, FL-22). “Every year, we lose more Survivors that can recall firsthand the horrors of the Holocaust. If we want to keep alive the stories of those that survived one of history’s darkest moments and ensure that these heinous acts are never again repeated,  Holocaust education must be taught in classrooms across the United States.”

Rhonda Fink-Whitman, producer of “The Mandate Video” and author of 94 Maidens, said, “The clock is ticking and Holocaust survivors and WWII liberators won’t be able to share their firsthand accounts much longer. We have a duty to teach the lessons of the Holocaust lest we forget the past. Education is our best defense against racism, anti-Semitism, and future genocide. In 42 states, we are failing to teach our children the lessons of the Holocaust. Doesn’t this country deserve better? I commend this much-needed legislation.” Ms. Fink-Whitman recently discussed the legislation in Newsweek .

Boyle, Ros-Lehtinen, Deutch, and Fitzpatrick hope that, with the introduction of this legislation, more attention will be paid to the importance of Holocaust education in public school curricula in order to better ensure that students today are better prepared to fight against bigotry and hateful rhetoric as they encounter it. Too many students are graduating high school with little exposure to Holocaust education and its universal relevance. This shared human experience is, of course, historically significant; but it is also our best defense against unchecked intolerance and bigotry.

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