caucus relaunch

House lawmakers relaunch Latino-Jewish caucus

Lawmakers emphasized the ties between the Latino and Jewish communities and the importance of continued collaboration

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) speaks at a press conference following their weekly caucus meeting in the U.S. Capitol Building on July 19, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

House lawmakers, joined on Thursday by American Jewish Committee leadership and Latino community leaders from across the country, relaunched the House’s Latino-Jewish Caucus for the new Congress.

The bipartisan group, chaired by Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Tony Gonzales (R-TX) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), has existed since 2011, having been founded in partnership with AJC, and works to build ties between the Latino and Jewish communities, combat hate against both groups and strengthen relations between Latin America and Israel. 

“In an era where it’s not cool to work together, in an era where you get criticized for negotiating and dealing with people who may disagree with you politically — these colleagues, this group of co-chairs and the members of this caucus that is truly bipartisan, work together, hand in glove,” Diaz-Balart said. 

Wasserman Schultz said that her hometown of Weston, Fla. — nicknamed “Westonzuela” due to the sizable number of Venezuelan residents — is a “living illustration of the ties that bind our communities.”

“The story of my neighborhood is woven from our shared histories of resettlement [and] acclamation, and colored by our shared values of family, faith, and freedom from persecution,” she continued. “This caucus was inspired by the spirit of collaboration that our constituents demonstrate every day.”

Espaillat emphasized the importance of pushing back on antisemitism at “every opportunity we get,” adding that “there is a strong sentiment on the [House] floor in support of what we do.” He also recounted a story from his own district, about how Holocaust education in a predominantly Latino high school “empowered them and brought them closer to the Jewish community.”

Luis Almagro, the secretary general of the Organization of American States, and Eliav Benjamin, the deputy chief of mission at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C., also spoke at the event.

Almagro noted that antisemitism is “visible and tolerated, if not encouraged,” in antidemocratic regimes such as Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. “And it is not an accident that they are allied with and get the support of” the Iranian regime and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, he added. “That is why I insist we must be alert and we must work together.”

Benjamin noted that, of the four countries that have moved their embassies in Israel to Jerusalem in recent years, two are from Latin America — Honduras and Guatemala.

“We are two communities with a rich history and culture and there is much we can learn from each other. And this goes across the country, it goes across the continent, it goes into Latin America, into the Caribbean,” he continued. “Our common values of family, education and hard work have allowed us to make significant contributions. However, we also face challenges that can only be addressed through collaboration and understanding.”

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