Source: The Jewish Voice

By JV Staff

 

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), member of Congress’s Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism, last week brought together Jewish community leaders, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, and the NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism to call for more federal action in response of the recent wave of anti-Semitic sentiment and actions, including multiple reports of bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers and vandalism at Jewish cemeteries.

The leaders, gathering at the Park East Synagogue in Maloney’s district, condemned anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred, and celebrated the news that an arrest has been made in connection to the threats on at least 8 Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) across the country and to New York’s own Anti-Defamation League.

Congresswoman Maloney called on the Department of Justice to create an anti-Semitism task force, for doubling the funding for the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP), announced a new bill for Holocaust education and asked for the Department of Education to adopt a standard definition for anti-Semitism and issue guidance to keep students safe.

“Combating anti-Semitism and any kind of hate-driven crime must be a multi-pronged effort. While we rely on law enforcement to keep us safe and bring the perpetrators to justice, we must also engage in community education efforts to stop the hatred before it starts or escalates,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12).

According to a report in the New York Observer, Maloney told the concerned gathering at the Park East Synagogue that the upsurge in anti-Semitic incidents could be classified as nothing short of “domestic terrorism.”

She added that, “Bomb threats directed at synagogues and the destruction of cemeteries are meant to instill fear, disrupt our lives and to individually achieve by violent criminal means what could never be achieved through the political process.”

The Observer also reported that Maloney sent letters to Attorney General Jeff Sessions—currently under fire for failing to disclose meetings he held last year with the Russian ambassador—asking him to form the task force to examine the outbreak of anti-Semitic incidents. She also sent a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos asking her department to adopt the definition of anti-Semitism developed by the State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism when it investigates possible incidents of religious discrimination.

The Department of Justice must create a focused taskforce whose purpose is to investigate this recent wave of anti-Semitic hate crimes, and Congress must double our funding allocation for the NSGP so that all synagogues and community centers can receive the funding they need to pay for proper security. We must protect our students on college campuses, and that should start with the Department of Education’s adoption of a standard definition of anti-Semitism. It is up to all of us in our communities to teach people to stand up against hate. We can start this in our schools by providing materials about the Holocaust by passing my Simon Wiesenthal Holocaust Education Assistance Act. We need to teach tolerance and we need to embrace our differences.”

Congresswoman Maloney was joined at the event by Park East Synagogue Senior Rabbi Arthur Schneier, NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism John Miller, Chief Assistant District Attorney to the Manhattan DA’s office Karen Friedman Agnifilo, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations Malcolm Hoenlein, President of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York Charles Temel, and Chairman of the Red Apple Group John Catsimatidis.

“As a holocaust survivor I am pained and saddened that not only in Europe but even in our land of freedom we are facing widespread anti-Semitic acts,” said Rabbi Arthur Schneier. “Synagogues, schools, and community centers represent the jugular vein of our community, are the front line targets of hatred. This is no time to be silent; I commend my friend Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney for her concern, for her constituency and beyond, and the concrete measures that she has taken to protect the Jewish community and all Americans.”

“The increasing anti-Semitic incidents across the United States requires a concerted, coordinated effort on the part of government officials, at the federal, state, and local levels, religious leaders, academics, the media, entertainment and sports figures, and other influentials to speak out against the perpetrators and those who incite or aid and abet them,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman, Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.

John Catsimatidis, the Chairman of the Red Apple Group and former candidate for mayor of New York City addressed the very grave issue of the persecution of Christians throughout the world by radical Islamic terrorists and others who preach hate and violence. He connected the scourge of anti-Semitism and anti-Christian murderous campaigns as causes for rising animosity towards all ethnic minorities as well as a catalyst that promotes xenophobia.

“These cowardly acts of vandalism and bomb threats are acts of ignorant bigotry,” said Catsimatidis. “These cowards are as guilty as any terrorist when they attack our Jewish brothers, our African American brothers or American citizens who have come from another country just as I have.”

“We thank Congresswoman Maloney for introducing the Simon Wiesenthal Holocaust Education Act which will help create Holocaust education materials that speak to younger generations,” said Charles Temel, President, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. “As the son of a Holocaust survivor, I know how vital it is that our children and grandchildren remember what took place during the Shoah and learn what happens when decent people don’t speak and take action until it is too late. The outburst of anti-Jewish hate in our time, both here and around the world, is frightening. We, as individuals and as a community must speak out to condemn bigotry of all forms and demand that our leaders forcefully do so as well. We are grateful for the initiative taken by Congresswoman Maloney and will do all in our power to see to it that this Holocaust Education Act is passed by Congress.”

According to the report in the New York Observer, John Miller, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner intelligence and counter-terrorism, said that religious institutions enjoy the protection of his department’s House of Worship cars and the Critical Response Command, a “uniformed, high-profile, highly visible team” that is deployed to locations during higher threat periods.

He said the NYPD has not seen a specific credible threat of an actual act of violence connected to the threats and that so far, the recent calls seem to be aimed at creating fear, wreaking havoc and causing disruption and evacuations “as opposed to any organized terrorist plot.”