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December 6, 2022 2:34 pm
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126 Members of Congress Send Letter Urging Unified National Strategy to Combat Antisemitism

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avatar by Andrew Bernard

The US Capitol dome is seen in Washington, US, December 17, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Erin Scott

A bipartisan group of 126 Senators and Congressional Representatives sent a letter to the Biden administration on Tuesday recommending the development of a unified national strategy to combat antisemitism along with the creation of an interagency task force.

“Combating a growing threat of this magnitude, particularly here at home, requires a strategic, whole-of-government approach,” the letter says. “Interagency coordination also could benefit from considering a broadly understood definition of antisemitism, as several agencies have adopted or recognized individually. Because many individual agencies play a critical role in combating antisemitism, closer coordination is needed to share best practices, data, and intelligence; identify gaps in efforts; streamline overlapping activities and roles; and execute a unified national strategy. The strategic collaboration of such entities would also send a key message to the American people and the international community that the United States is committed to fighting antisemitism at the highest levels.”

The letter was drafted by the co-chairs of the Senate and House Bipartisan Task Forces for Combating Antisemitism: Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and James Lankford (R-OK) and Reps. Kathy Manning (D-NC) and Chris Smith (R-NJ).

The letter cites the alarming rise in antisemitic violence as proof of the need for such action, including FBI statistics that show that antisemitic hate crimes make up 60% of all such incidents based on religion.

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FBI Director Christopher Wray and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas in Congressional testimony last month said they would support a national strategy to combat antisemitism. “From our perspective, we see the Jewish community getting it from all sides,” FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “Not only have they long been a target of foreign terrorist organizations…but then, in addition to that, they’re of course the target of domestic violent extremists.”

The call for a unified national strategy echoes recommendations made by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the American Jewish Committee (AJC), and other Jewish advocacy groups that have called for whole-of-government efforts to confront antisemitism.

“We applaud [Senator Rosen], [Senator Lankford], [Rep. Manning],  and Rep. Chris Smith for authoring this vital letter. Without the strong support of our leaders at the highest levels of government, true change would not be possible,” AJC said.

On Friday the ADL wrote to the Republican and Democratic House and Senate leaders to adopt such a plan, as well as other recommendations including funding to increase security at houses of worship and addressing antisemitism and extremism in the military.

“We believe that there is no single measure, no silver bullet that can solve the crisis of antisemitism but that these legislative measures, taken as a whole, can have a meaningful impact in addressing the crisis our nation faces,” the ADL wrote.

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