More than 150 members of Congress signed onto a letter from a Florida congresswoman urging the U.S. Justice and Homeland Security Departments and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigate bomb threats to more than 50 Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) in 26 states.
Last week, freshman U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., wrote the letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security Sec. John Kelly and FBI Director James Comey asking for a federal investigation of the wave of recent threats.
Murphy paired with U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley, D-NY, to write the letter. From the Florida delegation, Republican U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Carlos Curbelo, Mario Diaz-Balart, Bill Posey and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen signed the letter as did Florida Democrats U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Alcee Hastings, Darren Soto, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Frederica Wilson.
“These bomb threats are unacceptable,” Murphy said. Federal law enforcement agencies must do everything within their power to punish those responsible for the threats that have already taken place, to prevent future threats from occurring, and to ensure these threats are never converted into action. This letter urges senior federal officials to advise Congress on the steps that are being taken to deter these threats from being made, to identify and prosecute the perpetrators, and to enable JCCs to enhance security measures such as physical barriers and guards.
“As the letter notes, these phone calls have a severe economic, as well as emotional, impact,” Murphy added. “JCCs provide a range of educational and community services for Jewish and non-Jewish individuals and families, with a particular focus on children and youth. The individuals who make these calls no doubt recognize that bomb threats can compromise a JCC’s financial future.”
“There are few crimes more vile than threatening children, and these threats against Jewish Community Centers are terrifying our fellow Americans and must stop,” Crowley said. “The Trump administration, including the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Attorney General, and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, should immediately announce their plans to investigate and stop these threats. I deeply appreciate the hard work of Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy in building bipartisan support for this effort. We must thoroughly investigate these threats.”
Curbelo pointed to incidents in South Florida where bomb threats were made to Jewish centers and weighed in on Friday.
“The rise of anti-Semitism and violence directed toward our Jewish community is unacceptable to me and should have no place in American society or anywhere in the world,” Curbelo insisted. “I’m committed to defending the religious freedom and safety of our Jewish community, and my staff and I are ready to help anyway we can to assist and show that we will not tolerate these actions in South Florida.”
"I am deeply alarmed by the rise of anti-Semitic attacks in this country -- such hatred will not be tolerated," Frankel said. "I call on the administration to come up with a comprehensive strategy to combat anti-Semitism and hunt down those who make bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers, desecrate cemeteries and commit other hate crimes."