Ex-national Security Officials to Advise Jewish Institutions on anti-Semitism Threats

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A vandalized Jewish tombstone at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia,  February 27, 2017.
A vandalized Jewish tombstone at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia, February 27, 2017.Credit: Mark Makela, Getty Images/AFP

WASHINGTON - After five "waves" of bomb threats aimed at Jewish institutions in 30 U.S. states and three recent events of vandalism at Jewish cemeteries, on Thursday, former national security officials announced a new initiative to increase security within the Jewish community. The National Security Advisory Council, a body consisting of former officials in the leading federal agencies dealing with national security, will work to advise Jewish institutions on how to deal with the new emerging threats. 

The new council was formed by the Secure Community Network, an organization operated jointly by the Jewish Federations of North American and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.  It will be chaired by Alejandro Mayorkas, the former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under Obama administration. The new council, together with the Secure Community Network, will work in cooperation with law enforcement officials on a national and local level, as well as with Jewish communities across the United States. 

"We, in the National Security Advisory Council will provide strategic guidance to and also assist in the strengthening of critical partnerships with federal, state, and local law enforcement leaders across the country," Mayorkas explained in a press briefing on Thursday. "The National Security Advisory Council will have members from all of these levels of government, who have tremendous experience working within and throughout communities across the country in the furtherance of the security imperatives, not only for the Jewish community, but for communities in their entirety."

Other members of the newly formed council are Jane Holl Lute, who was Deputy Secretary at DHS from 2009 to 2013, Richard Shaffer - a former Director of Information Assurance at the National Security Agency (NSA) and Robert Silvers, a former Assistant Secretary for Cyber Policy at the DHS - an interesting addition to the team, since one issue that has been receiving growing attention is anti-Semitic harassment and threats on the internet and on social networks. 

Also on Thursday, the National Council of Jewish Women published a statement on the latest anti-Semitic incidents, declaring that these incidents had "deeply shaken the Jewish community." The statement, attributed to the group's president, Nancy Kaufman, added that "while President Trump has finally acknowledged these threats, the ongoing refusal to identify them as anti-Semitism is beyond troubling. We know all too well what can happen when anti-Semitism goes unchecked. We urge the administration to apply all resources necessary to bring the perpetrators to justice."

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