- Win McNamee
All 100 US Senators signed a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, and FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday asking for “swift action” over repeated bomb threats against Jewish organizations around the country.
The threats have targeted Jewish Community Centers (JCCs), Jewish Day Schools, synagogues and other buildings affiliated with Jewish institutions over the past several weeks.
The letter said the threats “are not isolated incidents” and cited stats from the Jewish Federations of North America. According to the organization, in the first two months of 2017, at least 98 “incidents” were reported, targeting JCCs and Jewish Day Schools at 81 locations in 33 states.
Amid the threats, Jewish cemeteries saw at least 75 to 100 headstones vandalized, The Washington Post reported.
- REUTERS Tom Gannam
Thirty-one-year-old former-journalist Juan Thompson was arrested last week in connection with bomb threats made to at least eight Jewish community centers.
Business Insider’s Michelle Mark reported Thompson is accused of making some of the threats in the name of an ex-girlfriend as part of a “sustained campaign to harass and intimidate” her, according to a criminal complaint. He has also been charged with one count of cyberstalking.
Until recently, President Donald Trump was ambiguous about his stance on anti-Semitism at large, calling the attacks “reprehensible,” but adding that sometimes they’re done in “the reverse.” Trump’s daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner, and three of his grandchildren are Jewish. Kushner’s grandmother was a holocaust survivor.
Senators in the letter said they were “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.”
- REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
They called on Sessions, Kelly, and Comey for action, saying, “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 on the future.”
The senators ended by encouraging the three men 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.”