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January 16, 2020 10:38 am

US Congressional Hearings Debate Response to Rising Antisemitism, Domestic Terrorism

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

A picture of the scene the day after an hours-long gun battle around a kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey, Dec. 11, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Lloyd Mitchell.

Two separate hearings at the US Congress this week have examined potential measures that legislators can take in response to the recent rise in antisemitic rhetoric and attacks across America.

On Wednesday, freshman Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) chaired a session of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence & Counterterrorism titled “Confronting the Rise in Antisemitic Domestic Terrorism.”

“The horrific rise in antisemitic domestic terrorism is an issue that has deeply affected my district, my community, and the whole New York City area,” Rose said in a statement. “Jewish people have been coming to America since before it was even called America in order to freely practice their religion, escape persecution, and build a better life for their families. Yet now we are under assault by extremists, many of whom are emboldened to act and often encouraged by content on social media platforms. The time for thoughts and prayers has passed — the time now is for action.”

Experts addressing the hearing included Nathan Diament — the executive director of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America — who argued that the recent spate of violent attacks on visibly Orthodox Jewish targets had been “amplified and accelerated by the broader surge in antisemitism we are experiencing in the United States.”

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John Miller — deputy commissioner of intelligence  and counterterrorism for the New York Police Department (NYPD) — told the hearing that tougher law enforcement measures were not a substitute for education against prejudice and antisemitism.

“Antisemitism in all its forms…is steeped in ignorance and bred of muddled and incoherent conspiracy theories, and while this has been the case for quite some time, it is more easily spread and consumed these days because of social media,” Miller remarked. “For these reasons, a lasting solution to bigotry and hatred will never be grounded solely on law enforcement and heightened security. That will only be achieved when every citizen works collectively to educate each other and to reinforce our shared values of tolerance and unity.”

Also on Wednesday, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) — who sits on the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy — addressed the growing threat of the financing of domestic terrorism, extremism, white supremacists and antisemitism during a subcommittee hearing.

Gottheimer highlighted his proposed legislation, the FASTER Act — the Freezing Assets of Suspected Terrorists and Enemy Recruits Act — currently being considered as a discussion draft within the committee.

The legislation would assist law enforcement agencies in freezing the assets of “ISIS-inspired, lone-wolf terrorists or other extremists on our soil, to prevent these funds from being used to carry out another attack by friends, family, or unknown accomplices operating in a small cell,” Gottheimer said.

Gottheimer added that his bill “also calls for a National Homegrown Terrorism Incident Clearinghouse, for law enforcement to collect and share information on incidents to help investigate and thwart future attacks.”

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