All 100 U.S. senators have signed a letter asking the Trump administration to address recent waves of bomb threats and vandalism against the Jewish community.
Led by Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich; Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Bill Nelson, D-Fla;. and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the lawmakers are requesting the Justice Department, Homeland Security Department and FBI take “swift action” to stop the threats against Jewish Community Centers and other Jewish institutions.
“We are 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,” the senators wrote. “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 in the future.”
Since the beginning of the year, more than 100 JCCs and day schools have received bomb threats, some leading to evacuations. Offices of the Anti-Defamation League have also been targeted. None of the threats have been substantiated, and it is unclear whether the calls are coordinated.
Last week, a St. Louis man was arrested in connection with at least eight bomb threats. He was charged with cyberstalking and allegedly made the threats in the name of an ex-girlfriend.
At least three Jewish cemeteries have been vandalized, with headstones being knocked over.
President Donald Trump did not directly address the rise in anti-Semitism until his speech before Congress last week, despite calls from the Jewish community the president needed to speak out against the violence. Jewish groups have called on Trump to directly condemn such incidents swiftly after they happen.
The senators said they wanted to work with the administration to address the growing incidents of anti-Semitism, and asked the relevant departments to respond with plans for how they would “address, deter and prevent this threat.”
“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, including in our states,” the senators wrote. “This is completely unacceptable and un-American.”