Rep. Pascrell Urges Action on Rise in Anti-Semitism
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) joined 153 colleagues in a bi-partisan letter lead by U.S. Representatives Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) and Joseph Crowley (D-NY) to the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and the FBI Director regarding recent bomb threats aimed at Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) in more than two dozen states across the nation, including the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly.
"The increase in anti-Semitism is abhorrent. The waves of threats aimed at Jewish Community Centers and desecration of synagogues and cemeteries across our nation is a chilling reminder that hate towards people based on their religious beliefs still is prevalent. These despicable acts, which send waves of fear into men, women, and children, have unfortunately been on the rise in recent years," Rep. Pascrell said. "I have confidence that law enforcement officials will work diligently to unearth the individuals who caused this pain. It is incumbent on all leaders in our nation to consistently denounce religious intolerance and condemn violence and threats towards groups based on how they pray or who they are. I remain concerned President Trump has done little to denounce this new rash of discrimination against Jewish Americans. He must also put aside misguided plans to shift the focus on the Countering Violent Extremism program and work to unify our country."
The letter urges DHS and DOJ to swiftly assess the situation and to advise Congress on what specific steps are being taken to deter such "telephone terrorism;" to prosecute the perpetrators for violations of federal criminal laws; and to enable JCCs to enhance security measures in the event that an individual seeks to act on these threats.
On February 20, 11 Jewish community centers received bomb threats. This comes in the aftermath of three waves of bomb threats in January, resulting in 68 incidents at 53 JCCs in 26 states. The letter comes on the heels of the vandalism of more than 170 headstones at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis.
The rise in Anti-Semitism is not an idle concern, given that there have been at least three casualty-causing attacks at JCCs or other Jewish institutions in the last two decades. In August 2006 there was a deadly attack at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. In June 2009 there was a deadly attack at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Finally, in April 2014 deadly attacks occurred at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and the Village Shalom retirement community.
The letter is supported by the Jewish Federations of North America, the JCC Association of North America, the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando, the JCC of Binghamton (NY), the Springfield (MA) JCC, the JCC Manhattan (NY), the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC of Houston, the JCC of Bayonne (NJ), Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley (PA), Mittleman Jewish Community Center and Portland (OR) Jewish Academy, IJ and Jeanné Wagner JCC (Salt Lake City, UT), Raleigh-Cary (NC) JCC, Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton-Manhattan Beach (NY), Worcester (MA) JCC, Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Tucson (AZ) JCC, Augusta (GA) Jewish Federation and Community Center; Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington (MD), JCC of MidWestchester (NY), Asheville (NC) JCC, Bergen County Y/JCC (NJ), Boulder (CO) JCC, JCC of Central New Jersey (Scotch Plains, NJ), Indianapolis (IN) JCC, Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey , JCC Dallas (TX), JCC Palm Beaches (FL), Jewish Educational Alliance (Savannah, GA), Savannah (GA) Jewish Federation, JCC on the Hudson (Tarrytown, NY), and Birmingham (AL) JCC, among others.