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POLITICO: Senators decry 'accelerating' anti-Semitic threats in bipartisan plea

All 100 senators aligned Tuesday morning in a rare moment of bipartisanship to ask that the Trump administration offer help to Jewish community centers and other Jewish institutions facing a sharp rise in security threats this year.

In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and FBI Director James Comey, the senators note “at least 98 incidents” of bomb threats against JCCs and Jewish schools, as well as reported vandalism of Jewish cemeteries in Missouri and Philadelphia.

“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,” wrote the senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

In their letter, an advance copy of which was obtained by Politico, the senators urge that the Trump administration reach out to JCCs, schools, temples and other local centers “regarding victim assistance, grant opportunities or other federal assistance that may be available to enhance security measures and improve preparedness.”

The bipartisan group praises federal actions already taken in response to the JCC threats and asks that Sessions, Kelly and Comey “inform us of the actions that your departments plan to take to address threats against these and other religious institutions.”

Juan Thompson, a 31-year-old Missourian, was arrested and charged Friday with making at least eight threats against JCCs while cyberstalking someone described as a former romantic partner. Investigators reportedly are continuing to look at whether Thompson was responsible for a greater number of the recent threats against Jewish institutions.

Trump condemned the rash of anti-Semitic incidents on Feb. 21 after sparking concerns among some Jewish community groups for a delay in responding to the threats. He later added remarks to a joint session of Congress that criticized both anti-Semitic threats and the racially motivated murder of an Indian-American man in Kansas.

The letter was spearheaded by Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

Among the groups endorsing the senators' letter are the American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Community Center Association of North America, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Orthodox Union, Jewish Federations of North America and Union for Reform Judaism.