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The First Amendment’s promise of freedom of religion is an empty one if all Americans, including American Jews, don’t feel safe in their houses of worship or welcome in their communities. With FBI data showing that 58 percent of religiously-motivated hate crimes targeted American Jews in 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has been making an increased effort to support and engage with the Jewish community, including by convening a summit on domestic anti-Semitism this week.
The day-long event included speakers from the Departments of Justice, State, Treasury, and Education, including the secretaries of Treasury and Education. Panels addressed how to combat anti-Semitism while respecting the First Amendment, anti-Semitism on college campuses, the prosecution of hate crimes, and federal efforts to combat anti-Semitism.
Introductory - Remarks - Attorney - General - William
In his introductory remarks, Attorney General William Barr compared various forms of anti-Semitism to different forms of cancer, observing that the body politic needs a strong immune system that rejects both anti-Semitism and racial hatred. Speakers throughout the day acknowledged the patient is sick. However, Barr told American Jews that he sees rising anti-Semitism, not only in the widely discussed attacks in Pittsburgh and Poway, but also on the streets of Crown Heights, in desecrated cemeteries, and in zoning decisions intended to exclude growing Jewish communities.
Barr told the audience, those experiences “form the daily background of concerns about safety and security that many Jews feel. I want to assure you that the Department of Justice and [the] whole federal government stands with you and will not tolerate these attacks.”
Solidarity - Week - Introduction - Congress - Resolution
That solidarity is appreciated during a week that’s seen the introduction of Congress’ first-ever resolution in support of boycotting Israel. The boycott movement arose repeatedly as one powerful example of excluding and marginalizing Jews—92 percent of American Jews support Israel—as speakers addressed how contemporary anti-Semitism manifests on college campuses, as well...
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