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Rep. John Lewis Says Inaction on Jewish Center Attacks Breeds Violence

February 28, 2017
Press Release

Yesterday’s evening news reported that 75 to 100 gravesites were desecrated this past weekend at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia.  This followed a recent incident where 170 headstones were knocked off their foundations, cracked and damaged at another Jewish cemetery in Missouri. 

Synagogues and Jewish centers in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia have all received threats, some for the second or third time this year, according to the Jewish Community Centers Association of America.  

In October of last year, the Anti-Defamation League released a detailed report on 800 Jewish journalists who had been the target of a rising number of anti-Semitic tweets on the Internet. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate violence documents increased attacks in this country since November of last year--206 anti-immigrant, 151 anti-Black, 80 anti-LGBT incidents, 60 incidents of swastika vandalism, 51 anti-Muslim, and 36 anti-woman attacks. 

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. compared the spread of hatred to an ‘unchecked cancer’ that corrodes the very fabric of our society.  If we truly believe in the equality of every human being and the inherent right to individual liberty, then there is not any room in our society for these acts of hate.  To allow anti-Semitism, violence and other campaigns of hate and fear to continue unconstrained threatens the safety and security of every American. 

“Currently, we are engaged in banning and deporting alleged ‘bad guys,’ without regard to the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens caught up in this haphazard policy.  Yet let us not forget that the most frequent incidence of terrorist threats and attacks in this country has not come from abroad but from the unchecked rage of American citizens right here on our own shores. 

“If this nation is to restore its tattered image around the world, it must abide by its own commitment to liberty, justice and equality.  America’s greatness is not its stockpile of bombs, missiles and guns, but its ability to encourage true peace, heal the wounds of war, and help create real democratic freedom and justice here and around the world," said Rep. Lewis.

“While there has been only one bomb threat in Atlanta over the past few months, I can tell you that there is a heightened sense of fear in the Jewish community.  As we see our friends and family around the country, knowing that this is affecting people of all ages, we hope that the perpetrators of this attack will be brought to justice.”  Dov Wilker, Regional Director, American Jewish Committee, Atlanta

“The Jewish community has been terrorized by an onslaught of bomb threats to Jewish community centers, including Atlanta and Augusta, and the desecration of Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia. We urge Congress and the President to take concrete steps to initiate a comprehensive investigation and to push for hate crime legislation in Georgia and the other four states that still do not have a state hate crime law.”  Shelley Rose, Interim Regional Director, Anti-Defamation League, Atlanta