hate crimes

Senate Calls for ‘Swift Action’ As JCCs Face Another Round of Bomb Threats

Police search the Jewish Community Center of Southern Nevada after an employee received a suspicious phone call on February 27, 2017, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Senate sent a letter to top Trump administration officials on Tuesday urging them to do more to combat anti-Semitic threats just as Jewish Community Centers faced another round of bomb threats. Fifteen Jewish organizations in the U.S. and Canada received the phone calls on Tuesday, in the sixth wave of threats this year. The Anti-Defamation League said that 110 institutions have received 140 bomb threats.

“We write to underscore the need for swift action with regard to the deeply troubling series of anonymous bomb threats made against Jewish Community Centers (JCCs), Jewish day schools, synagogues and other buildings affiliated with Jewish organizations or institutions across the country,” said the letter, which was signed by all 100 senators.

It continued, “We are concerned that the number of incidents is accelerating and failure to address and deter these threats will place innocent people at risk and threaten the financial viability of JCCs, many of which are institutions in their communities.”

The letter was addressed to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and FBI Director James Comey.

The FBI has been investigating the incidents, and last week the bureau charged Juan Thompson, a former journalist, with making at least eight threats as part of a “campaign to harass and intimidate” his ex-girlfriend. He’s believed to be a copycat who only started making threats after seeing news reports.

Comey also met with Jewish community leaders to discuss their progress. Afterward, they praised “the extraordinary effort that the FBI is applying to the ongoing investigation,” according to the Washington Post.

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security said it would help Jewish institutions improve security.

Sessions has not discussed the incidents, but President Trump and others in his administration have continued to condemn them. Trump was initially criticized for giving vague, defensive answers when asked about the threats.

“We think it’s long overdue for the Department of Justice to announce a fully resourced criminal investigation into these crimes,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League. “I mean, these are hate crimes.”

Senate Calls for ‘Swift Action’ Amid More JCC Bomb Threats