U.S. Representatives Peter J. Roskam (R-IL), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Kay Granger (R-TX), and Marc Veasey (D-TX), are announcing the re-launch of the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism in the House of Representatives for the 115th Congress.
According to the latest available FBI statistics, the number of anti-Semitic criminal offenses rose from 635 in 2014 to 695 in 2015. Since January 2017, over 60 Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) have been targeted by telephonic bomb threats. Just yesterday morning, there were reports of more bomb threats at eight JCCs across the country. Last week, 170 Jewish graves were found toppled at a cemetery in Missouri and another 100 headstones toppled in Philadelphia just yesterday.
As co-Chairs of the Taskforce, the Members issued the following statement:
"At home and abroad, we continue to witness anti-Semitism that is both dangerous and complex. The recent desecration of Jewish grave sites and bomb threats targeting JCCs and Jewish day schools across the country are deplorable. And overseas, the anti-Semitic threats, vandalism, and violence aimed at Jewish schools, synagogues, kosher supermarkets, homes and property are unacceptable. In light of recent events, it is more important than ever that Democrats and Republicans work together to root out hatred and racism in all its ugly forms. We look forward to working with our colleagues in Congress to find innovative solutions that match the 21st century face of this ancient bigotry."
Rep. Roskam released following statement on the most recent anti-Semitic attacks:
"I am appalled by the anti-Semitic harassment which has plagued dozens of Jewish communities around the country this year. In 2017, over 60 Jewish Community Centers have been evacuated due to "telephonic bomb threats," and hundreds of Jewish gravestones in cemeteries across the country have been vandalized and destroyed by cowardly, anti-Semitic criminals.
"Religious freedom is a cornerstone of our nation and the ability for all faiths to worship freely is sacred to our identity as Americans--no hateful act of vandalism or violent threat can change that. I stand with the Jewish people, who have for thousands of years stood resilient in the face of persecution and oppression. An attack on the Jewish community is an attack on every American community --we must step up the fight against this cancerous hatred."
Last week, Rep. Roskam cosigned a letter sent to the FBI, DHS, DOJ urging them to swiftly address the bomb threats against Jewish Community centers.
Background on the Taskforce
The Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism works to ensure Congress plays an integral role in condemning anti-Semitism and spearheading initiatives to promote tolerance worldwide. The Taskforce serves as a forum for educating Members on this distinct form of intolerance and to engage with the Administration, foreign leaders, and civil society organizations to share best practices and collaborate on solutions to rebuff this systemic problem. It also promotes Holocaust remembrance in concert with exploring innovative ways to teach tolerance and confront hate.