Rubio, Peters, Portman, Nelson Lead Entire Senate in Calling on DHS, DOJ to Address Threats to Jewish Institutions

 

We had threats in January to our own Jewish Community Center (see channel 4 report) .  Threats and vandalism have continued since then, toward our Jewish Communities around the country. As a Christian clergyman, I have been looking for items of our local support from our churches and others.  Our facebook page may be one good place to express our concern and support for our neighbors and friends who have become targets.  I was glad to see this recently addressed by the United States Senate in a bipartisan call for action.  In 2013, I was blessed to come to Washington D.C. and deliver the opening prayer at the Senate.  (Link to the Congressional Record).  Christians and all Americans are indebted to the Jewish People in numerous ways.   Let’s stand together against the threats, vandalism and violence.     – Rev. Richard Dalton

U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Gary Peters (D-MI), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Bill Nelson (D-FL) today led all 100 senators in urging the Trump Administration to take action in response to the recent anonymous bomb threats made against Jewish Community Centers (JCCs), Jewish Day Schools, and synagogues. In a bipartisan letter sent to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and FBI Director James Comey, the senators stress the importance of these centers within their communities and offer suggestions for deterring the threats of violence.

“These cowardly acts aim to create an atmosphere of fear and disrupt the important programs and services offered by JCCs to everyone in the communities they serve, including in our states,” wrote the senators. “We are concerned that the number of incidents is accelerating and failure to address and deter these threats will place innocent people at risk and threaten the financial viability of JCCs, many of which are institutions in their communities.”

According to the Jewish Federations of North America, in the first two months of 2017 alone, at least 98 incidents against JCCs and Jewish Day Schools at 81 locations in 33 states have been reported. Threats to the Jewish community even included threats against organizations dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, such as two Anti-Defamation League offices.

The senators also raised concerns about the desecration of hundreds of headstones at Jewish cemeteries in both St. Louis and Philadelphia.

“We encourage you to communicate with individual JCCs, the JCC Association of North America, Jewish Day Schools, Synagogues and other Jewish community institutions regarding victim assistance, grant opportunities or other federal assistance that may be available to enhance security measures and improve preparedness,” continued the senators. “We also recognize the anti-Semitic sentiment behind this spate of threats and encourage your Departments to continue to inform state and local law enforcement organizations of their obligations under the Hate Crime Statistics Act and other federal laws.”

The letter is supported by a wide range of groups, including the American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Community Center Association of North America, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Orthodox Union, Jewish Federations of North America and Union for Reform Judaism.

“I commend Senators Peters, Portman, Nelson and Rubio for mobilizing such a resounding bipartisan call for action,” said Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “Today the Senate demonstrated a unified moral front against hatred and sent a strong message that in our America a threat against one of us is an attack on all of us.”

“The Jewish Federations of North America thank Senators Peters, Portman, Nelson and Rubio for shining a bright light on the scourge of anti-Semitism and hate that is spreading across America,” said Jewish Federations of North America Senior Vice President William Daroff. “We appreciate that the vast majority of the United States Senate is speaking with one voice to stand against intolerance.”

The full text of the senators’ letter is below:

Dear Secretary Kelly, Attorney General Sessions, and Director Comey:

We write to underscore the need for swift action with regard to the deeply troubling series of anonymous bomb threats made against Jewish Community Centers (JCCs), Jewish Day Schools, Synagogues and other buildings affiliated with Jewish organizations or institutions across the country. We thank you for your recent efforts and ask that you inform us of the actions that your Departments plan to take to address threats against these and other religious institutions. We stand ready to work with you to ensure that these centers can continue to serve their communities free from violence and intimidation.

It has become clear that threats of violence against individual JCCs are not isolated incidents. According to the Jewish Federations of North America, in the first two months of 2017 alone, at least 98 incidents against JCCs and Jewish Day Schools at 81 locations in 33 states have been reported. These cowardly acts aim to create an atmosphere of fear and disrupt the important programs and services offered by JCCs to everyone in the communities they serve, including in our states. In addition to reports of incidents at JCCs and Jewish Day Schools, there have been incidents at cemeteries in both St. Louis and Philadelphia involving the desecration of Jewish headstones. This is completely unacceptable and un-American.

We are concerned that the number of incidents is accelerating and failure to address and deter these threats will place innocent people at risk and threaten the financial viability of JCCs, many of which are institutions in their communities. Your Departments can provide crucial assistance by helping JCCs, Jewish Day Schools and Synagogues improve their physical security, deterring threats from being made, and investigating and prosecuting those making these threats or who may seek to act on these threats in the future. We encourage you to communicate with individual JCCs, the JCC Association of North America, Jewish Day Schools, Synagogues and other Jewish community institutions regarding victim assistance, grant opportunities or other federal assistance that may be available to enhance security measures and improve preparedness. We also recognize the anti-Semitic sentiment behind this spate of threats and encourage your Departments to continue to inform state and local law enforcement organizations of their obligations under the Hate Crime Statistics Act and other federal laws.

We are ready to work with you to address this pressing issue, and we look forward to your responses about the actions you intend to take to address, deter, and prevent this threat.

Link to the Jewish Community Center of Metro Detroit

 

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