Gottheimer Leads Delegation on Letter In Support of Funding to Fight Threats Against Jewish Institutions

Letter to Congressional Leadership From 12 New Jersey Members Calls For Appropriations for DHS and DOJ, Currently Operating Under Continuing Resolution

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TENAFLY, N.J. , March 3, 2017 | comments
Today, at a rally following a bomb threat called into the Jewish Community Center in Tenafly, New Jersey, Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) announced that he had led 11 other Members of the New Jersey delegation in a letter to Congressional leadership, requesting a funding measure for the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice for their programs that support the security of JCCs. 

They told Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell that, in light of the recent surge of threats against Jewish institutions, DHS and DOJ must have appropriated funding, instead of the CR under which they are currently operating, to provide desperately-needed support, preparedness planning, and resources for law enforcement to address this outbreak.

"As members of the New Jersey delegation, we are deeply concerned about the recent rash of heinous violence targeting Jewish cemeteries, educational institutions, and community centers across the state," wrote the Members. "Given those threats, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and federal law enforcement agencies must have the critical resources needed to protect our communities from lone wolf and homegrown terrorists and extremists. For this reason, we request a measure to provide funding for the DHS and DOJ to provide desperately-needed support, preparedness planning, and resources for law enforcement to address this outbreak."

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The bipartisan letter was also signed by Senators Menendez and Booker as well as Representatives Lance, MacArthur, Sires, Watson Coleman, Norcross, Pascrell, Pallone, Payne, and LoBiondo.

The text of the letter is below and HERE.

 

March 3, 2017

 

Speaker Paul Ryan

H-232 The Capitol

Washington, DC  20515

 

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

S-221 The Capitol

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell:

As members of the New Jersey delegation, we are deeply concerned about the recent rash of heinous violence targeting Jewish cemeteries, educational institutions, and community centers across the state. Given those threats, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and federal law enforcement agencies must have the critical resources needed to protect our communities from lone wolf and homegrown terrorists and extremists. For this reason, we request a measure to provide funding for the DHS and DOJ to provide desperately-needed support, preparedness planning, and resources for law enforcement to address this outbreak.

Jewish Community Centers and synagogues are bedrocks of religious and civic life for Jewish communities across the United States. They house preschools for children and a range of religious, educational, and social programs for families and seniors. Yet, the safety and well-being of these communal spaces are being threatened. According to the JCC Association of North America, there have been more than 100 threats across thirty-three states, with thirty-one of those on Monday alone. In New Jersey, recent data from the New Jersey Suspicious Activity Reporting System shows there have been nineteen incidents at religious facilities. There have been eight bomb threats targeting six Jewish Community Centers in New Jersey. These are not cases of random hatred; they are part of a deeply disturbing national trend that requires immediate and comprehensive action.

We have full faith in our local law enforcement and commend them for acting quickly in each of these cases to sweep facilities and protect members of the public. However, they are operating without fully-functional federal resources. This includes critical programs like DHS’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which helps fund essential security enhancements such as barrier and screening tools and improvements and preparedness training for nonprofit institutions like JCCs. Because the DHS and DOJ are operating under a temporary continuing resolution (CR) that funds the government through April 2017, agencies are in a holding pattern that prevents them from effectively stemming the violence.

When it comes to Homeland Security, the stakes are simply too high for us to ask our local families and community institutions to fend for themselves in the face of homegrown terrorism. Anti-Semitism does not just impact the Jewish community, but when it is tolerated, it destabilizes entire communities and can lead to attacks on other religious and ethnic groups.

Keeping our families and communities in New Jersey and around the country safe is our most fundamental responsibility as their representatives. We urge your swift action to address these ongoing threats to our children and families.

Sincerely,

###

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