U.S. Lawmakers Call for 'Comprehensive Strategy' From Trump to Fight anti-Semitism

Bipartisan taskforce includes over 100 members of the House of Representatives who want Trump to ensure better cooperation between agencies to confront incidents targeting Jewish sites.

Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon
Trump supporter Bob, who declined to give his last name, volunteers his time and prepares the base of a damaged headstone Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, at a vandalized Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia.
Trump supporter Bob, who declined to give his last name, volunteers his time and prepares the base of a damaged headstone Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, at a vandalized Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia. Credit: Jacqueline Larma/AP
Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon

A bipartisan group of members of the House of Representatives wrote to President Trump on Thursday asking him to set up a "comprehensive, inter-agency strategy" to combat the rising number of anti-Semitic incidents across the United States.

The letter, signed by four Democrats and four Republicans, is one of the first actions of a recently relaunched bipartisan taskforce to combat anti-Semitism. The eight members who signed the letter – Ted Deutch (D-FL), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Marc Veasy (D-TX), Peter Roskam (R-IL), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Kay Granger (R-TX) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) – serve as the heads of the taskforce, which includes more than a hundred members of the House.

In their letter to the president, the members urged him to take a number of concrete steps in order to push back against the wave of anti-Semitism felt around the county, including to ensure that the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice "has access to the necessary resources and information" in order to follow up on investigations regarding anti-Semitic incidents. The members noted that in the past, some local law enforcement agencies failed to report cases to federal agencies, and asked that the Justice Department clearly encourage local agencies to report any suspected crime, so that a nation-wide strategy can be devise.

They also called on Trump to personally see that cooperation between different agencies relevant to these investigations improves, and to set up an "interagency mechanism" to ensure that outcome, "similar to the interagency task force you proposed for dismantling criminal cartels." They offered to include within it "the Attorney General, the Departments of Justice – including the FBI – Homeland Security, Education, and State, and the Director of National Intelligence." The letter also called for an inter-agency evaluation of the growing levels of anti-Semitism on social networks.

The letter opened with praise from the bipartisan group for Trump's strong denunciation of anti-Semitism in his speech before Congress on Tuesday night. Rep. Deutch said that while he appreciated Trump's words, they could not substitute a coordinated and strategic effort on the issue. "The unease and fear in the Jewish community is real and palpable," he added. Rep. Engel said he has "never seen" such a great level of concern within the community.

The Anti Defamation League endorsed the call for a comprehensive strategy against anti-Semitism, and wrote that it was "powerful to see bipartisan members of Congress calling on the President to implement a clear plan to combat anti-Semitism."

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