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Lankford, Task Forces for Combating Antisemitism Members Want DHS, FBI to Prioritize Prevention of Antisemitic Violence 

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Representatives Kathy Manning (D-NC) and Chris Smith (R-NJ), co-chairs of the Senate and House Bipartisan Task Forces for Combating Antisemitism, today led a letter with their colleagues to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray to request their immediate attention on resources that help protect the safety and security of Jewish Americans, religious institutions and organizations in our nation that are vulnerable to increased threats and violence as a result of the terrorist attack in Israel on October 7.

Lankford, Rosen, Manning, and Smith are joined in sending the letter by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Roger Marshall (R-KS), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), John Boozman (R-AR), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Todd Young (R-IN), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) as well as Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Jefferson Van Drew (R-NJ), Patrick Ryan (D-NY), Joseph Morelle (D-NY), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Marilyn Strickland (D-WA), Grace Meng (D-NY), Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), Randy Weber (R-TX), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Glenn Grothman (R-WI), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Nikema Williams (D-GA), Max Miller (R-OH), Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Thomas Kean (R-NJ), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Buddy Carter (R-GA), Joe Neguse (D-CO), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Marc Veasey (D-TX), Dan Goldman (D-NY), Claudia Tenney (R-NY), Dean Phillips (D-MN), David Kustoff (R-TN), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Susie Lee (D-NV), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Julia Brownley (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Don Bacon (R-NE), David Trone (D-MD), Bradley Scott Schneider (D-IL), Nick LaLota (R-NY), and Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA).

The Members wrote in the their letter, “Free speech is always protected in the public square, but speech inciting violence, as well as threats and acts of terrorism and violence, must be taken seriously. Given these pressing threats, we support an increase in funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) in any upcoming supplemental funding legislation. While we appreciate the joint public safety notice issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to faith and community leaders on October 10, government agencies have a responsibility to continue to prioritize the safety and security of individuals and organizations vulnerable to violence, especially violence motivated by antisemitism, in real time, as the threat landscape evolves…”

The full letter is available HERE and below:

Dear Secretary Mayorkas and Director Wray:

As members of the Senate and House Bipartisan Task Forces for Combating Antisemitism, we write to express our concern about the increase in antisemitic threats and incidents targeting Jewish Americans and Jewish organizations here in the United States. Unfortunately, following Hamas’ recent terrorist attacks in Israel, antisemitism is on full display in cities around the country, as well as on college and university campuses. Free speech is always protected in the public square, but speech inciting violence, as well as threats and acts of terrorism and violence, must be taken seriously. Given these pressing threats, we support an increase in funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) in any upcoming supplemental funding legislation. 

While we appreciate the joint public safety notice issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to faith and community leaders on October 10, government agencies have a responsibility to continue to prioritize the safety and security of individuals and organizations vulnerable to violence, especially violence motivated by antisemitism, in real time, as the threat landscape evolves. As this effort continues, it is vital to prioritize information sharing to the maximum extent possible with targeted communities as well as state and local law enforcement partners. As you will recall, in May 2021, as violence perpetrated by Hamas against Israel escalated, antisemitic violence rose across the country. It is imperative that we work to prevent further targeted, antisemitic violence in the wake of the current conflict.

As such, we urge you to continue the work you have been undertaking to ensure the physical safety and security of Jewish Americans, religious institutions, and organizations, including synagogues, schools, and Jewish community centers. This includes taking additional steps to allocate sufficient resources toward and generate increased awareness of DHS’ NSGP. As you know, NSGP provides critical funding to support physical security and planning enhancements to keep at-risk nonprofits, including religious organizations and houses of worship, safe from violence.

Ensuring the safety of Jewish Americans also requires increased coordination to prevent and respond to threats of violence. Such coordination is not only necessary between federal law enforcement agencies like DHS and the FBI, but also other federal agencies, including the National Security Council and the Department of Education, as well as local governments, law enforcement agencies, and community leaders. Many individual agencies play a role in countering antisemitism, and close coordination between them is needed now more than ever to ensure that they can share data, intelligence, and best practices. Increasing federal interagency coordination and collaboration underscores America’s firm commitment to fighting antisemitism.

We believe that implementation of Pillar 2 of the US National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism released earlier this year should be focused on the principal threats to the safety and security of Jewish communities, particularly incitement to violence. We believe this is the time to work together to implement several important aspects of this strategy.

We appreciate the critical role that your agencies play in protecting our nation. We stand ready to work with you to safeguard the physical safety and security of Jewish Americans who are facing increased threats. To support this work, it is important that Members of Congress are made aware of the current threat landscape, and any specific antisemitic threats and acts of violence. As such, we request an unclassified member briefing no later than October 31, 2023, detailing the current threat assessment, interagency coordination efforts, and preparedness and resilience measures your agencies have in place to prevent and respond to such violence.

Sincerely,

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