Senate Calls for Federal Action Against Anti-Semitic Threats

Senate

In a powerful moment of unanimity on Tuesday, the Senate called upon the Trump administration to support the Jewish community, in light of recent security threats to Jewish community centers (JCCs) across the nation. All 100 Senators signed a letter urging the administration to actively address the upsurge in bomb threats against Jewish institutions. The letter asks the administration to reach out to JCCs, schools, and temples and help to “enhance security measures and improve preparedness.” The Senators specifically suggest “victim assistance, grant opportunities or other federal assistance” for Jewish centers.

The Senate’s plea expresses deep concern about the increasing number of anti-Semitic incidents nationwide. Over 100 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers and institutions this year, according to the FBI. The Secure Community Network of the Jewish Federations of North America reported nearly two dozen threats this week alone. In Missouri, Juan Thompson of St. Louis was arrested by the FBI and charged with issuing eight threats to Jewish schools, museums and activist groups, including the Manhattan office of the Anti-Defamation League. Thomson allegedly contacted Jewish institutions in New York City, Michigan, San Diego, and Dallas, claiming to know of bombs on their grounds.

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,” the Senate letter reads. It is of utmost importance to the Senators that the administration takes swift and pointed action to combat this issue. They warn that “failure to address and deter these threats will place innocent people at risk and threaten the financial viability of JCCs.”

The Senators commend federal action taken thus far and hope to remain informed about further plans to address the threats. The letter was penned by Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and sent to US Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and FBI Director James Comey.

Maryland and Texas BDS Legislation

Earlier this month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott called in his budget for laws which will stop state support for businesses that endorse or adhere to boycotts of Israel. Seventeen states have currently enacted anti-BDS (boycott, divestment and sanction) legislation, with states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio having done so in just the last few months.…