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Rep. Josh Gottheimer in Washington, D.C. Photo: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A group of Jewish Democratic members of Congress led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (N.J.) sent a letter to President Biden Tuesday criticizing both conservatives and progressives for "reckless" and antisemitic remarks.

Driving the news: The letter comes ahead of a virtual meeting Wednesday between Biden administration officials and Jewish advocacy groups seeking a more forceful response to the rise in antisemitic attacks in the U.S.

  • The letter calls for a "united, all-of-government effort to combat rising antisemitism in this country," and urges Biden to nominate an “experienced and qualified United States Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism."

What they're saying: Without naming her, the letter calls out Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) for comparing mask mandates to the Holocaust, comments which were condemned by House Republican leaders Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Steve Scalise (La.).

  • "[E]lected officials have used reckless, irresponsible antisemitic rhetoric," states the letter, which was also signed by Reps. Elaine Luria (Va.), Kathy Manning (N.C.) and Dean Phillips (Minn.).
  • "These include repeated, unacceptable, and blatantly antisemitic statements made by a Member of Congress comparing facemasks and other COVID-19 public health measures to 'what happened in Nazi Germany' during the Holocaust."

The members of Congress also write that they "reject comments from Members of Congress accusing Israel of being an 'apartheid state' and committing 'act[s] of terrorism.'"

  • Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Cori Bush (Mo.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), the first female Palestinian American in Congress, have all publicly described Israel's treatment of Palestinians as apartheid.
  • The Jewish members of Congress state that such statements are "antisemitic at their core and contribute to a climate that is hostile to many Jews."
"We must never forget that less than eighty years ago, within the lifetime of our parents and grandparents, six million people were murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust because they were Jews. Israel has long provided the Jewish people with a homeland in which they can be safe after facing centuries of persecution."

The big picture: The recent fighting between Israel's military and Hamas in Gaza has also fueled a rise in both antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents in the U.S. and around the world.

  • Ocasio-Cortez tweeted last week that a recent surge in antisemitic attacks was "horrifying."
  • "We will never, ever tolerate antisemitism here in NY or anywhere in the world," she said.

Representatives for Ocasio-Cortez, Bush and Tlaib did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read the full letter.

Go deeper

Shontel Brown wins Democratic primary in Ohio's 11th district

Shontel Brown. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Shontel Brown, the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party chair and a county councilwoman, on Tuesday won the Democratic primary in the race for former Rep. Marcia Fudge's seat, after opponent Nina Turner conceded.

Why it matters: Brown could become the third consecutive Black woman to represent the 11th District.

WHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries

Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization regional director for Africa. Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The World Health Organization called on countries Sunday to not impose travel bans on southern African nations amid concerns over the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The U.S. and countries in Europe and the Asia-Pacific announced travel restrictions in response to Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa. It's since spread to several European countries, Canada, Israel, Australia and Hong Kong. The WHO noted in a statement that only two southern African nations have detected the new variant.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.