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U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney Signs Letter Urging DHS, DOJ to Address JCC Bomb Threats

Letter signed by over 150 Members of Congress

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New Hartford, NY, February 23, 2017 | comments

Today, Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (R—NY) signed a bipartisan letter urging the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice to address the recent bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers (JCC) across the country.

The FBI is investigating over 70 bomb threats. On Monday, bomb threats targeted 11 JCCs, including Buffalo in upstate New York. Earlier this year, threats were received at centers across upstate New York including Albany, Dewitt and Vestal.

On January 31st the Binghamton JCC located in the 22nd District, along with JCCs in a number of states across the country, received a bomb threat over the phone. Following the threat, the facility was immediately evacuated, Vestal Police and a State Police K9 unit then searched the facility.

“The recent spate of anonymous threats against JCCs across the country are highly concerning. As this ‘telephone terrorism’ increases, we must work to ensure that JCCs are safe, secure and have the proper security measures in place to prepare for any future threat. In writing this letter today, we urge the DHS and DOJ to advise Congress on the steps being taken to deter future threats and the work being done to prosecute those who perpetrate these crimes.

I strongly condemn these anti-Semitic, violent threats and find it particularly disturbing that the threats target centers that serve such a large population, including children and seniors. Religious liberty is a founding principle of our nation and expressly granted in the United States Constitution. Any attack like this against a religiously affiliated institution is simply unacceptable,” said Rep. Tenney.

Sheryl Brumer, Executive Director of the Binghamton JCC added, "I would like to personally thank Representatives Murphy and Crowley for leading the charge by drafting a letter to the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice on our behalf, as well as Rep. Tenney and all the other members of Congress who took part as co-signers. It’s at times like this we need to know we can depend on our elected officials to help us keep our communities safe.”

Rep. Tenney continued, “JCCs provide a wide-range of services to Jewish and non-Jewish individuals. These centers are staples of our community; I know this firsthand as my son attended many programs at the Utica JCC. The alarm surrounding these threats pose serious financial harm to our JCCs, which places a large burden on our local facilities impacting their ability to operate. It is our mission to allow these centers to continue to operate and serve our community, while ensuring measures are in place to keep the centers safe from harm. I will work closely with the JCC staff in Vestal, centers across the 22nd district and local law enforcement to ensure our centers remain safe.”

The text of the letter is as follows:

The Honorable John F. Kelly

Secretary

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

3801 Nebraska Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20016

The Honorable Jeff Sessions
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530 


The Honorable James B. Comey
Director
Federal Bureau of Investigation
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20535

Dear Secretary Kelly, Attorney General Sessions, and Director Comey,

We write to express our deep concern regarding the recent spate of anonymous bomb threats made via telephone against Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) across the nation.  We urge the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice to swiftly assess the situation and to advise Congress on what specific steps are being taken, or will be taken, to deter such threats from being made, to identify and prosecute the perpetrators for violations of federal criminal laws, and to enable JCCs to enhance security measures such as physical barriers and guards, in the event that an individual seeks to act upon these threats. 

This is not an idle concern, given that there have been at least three casualty-causing attacks at JCCs or other Jewish institutions in the last two decades—in 2014 at a Kansas JCC, in 2006 at the Jewish Federation of Seattle, and in 1999 at a California JCC.  This is a national problem and, as such, it requires a national solution. 

In the first two months of 2017 alone, there have been 68 incidents targeting 53 JCCs in 26 states, according to JCC Association of North America.  A number of JCCs, such as the Roth Family Jewish Community Center of Greater Orlando, have received multiple threats. 

These phone calls have an immediate emotional impact, of course, but they also have an economic impact.  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, particularly when repeated, can compromise and even destroy a JCC’s financial future.

We urge you to approach this issue with a sense of urgency, and to work in partnership with state and territory governments, local law enforcement officials, JCC Association of North America, individual JCCs, and Jewish community institutions and leaders to address the threat in a holistic manner.  We look forward to your response regarding the specific steps being taken to prevent and respond to this threat.

Sincerely,

1.         Rep. Stephanie Murphy

2.         Rep. Joseph Crowley

3.         Rep. Val Demings

4.         Rep. Daniel Donovan

5.         Rep. Marcy Kaptur

6.         Rep. Tim Ryan

7.         Rep. Grace Meng

8.         Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz

9.         Rep. Steve Cohen

10.       Rep. Nydia Velazquez

11.       Rep. Alcee Hastings

12.       Rep. Juan Vargas

13.       Rep. Jimmy Panetta

14.       Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee

15.       Rep. Rosa DeLauro

16.       Rep. Leonard Lance

17.       Rep. John Lewis

18.       Rep. John Sarbanes

19.       Rep. Paul Tonko

20.       Rep. Jim Cooper

21.       Rep. Darren Soto

22.       Rep. Dwight Evans

23.       Rep. Nita Lowey

24.       Rep. Jerrold Nadler

25.       Rep. Matt Cartwright

26.       Rep. John Yarmuth

27.       Rep. Kathleen Rice

28.       Rep. Pramila Jayapal

29.       Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick

30.       Rep. Charlie Crist

31.       Rep. Ted Deutch

32.       Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton

33.       Rep. John Delaney

34.       Rep. David Joyce

35.       Rep. Brian Higgins

36.       Rep. Donald McEachin

37.       Rep. William Keating

38.       Rep. Brenda Lawrence

39.       Rep. Betty McCollum

40.       Rep. Frederica Wilson

41.       Rep. James McGovern

42.       Rep. Lois Frankel

43.       Rep. Elijah Cummings

44.       Rep. Eliot Engel

45.       Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart

46.       Rep. Charlie Dent

47.       Rep. Michael Capuano

48.       Rep. Claudia Tenney

49.       Rep. Alan Lowenthal

50.       Rep. Luis Gutierrez

51.       Rep. David Cicilline

52.       Rep. Thomas Suozzi

53.       Rep. Sander Levin

54.       Rep. Seth Moulton

55.       Rep. Rick Larsen

56.       Rep. Suzanne Bonamici

57.       Rep. Brad Schneider

58.       Rep. Jacky Rosen

59.       Rep. Jose Serrano

60.       Rep. Dina Titus

61.       Rep. Tom MacArthur

62.       Rep. Carolyn Maloney

63.       Rep. Jackie Speier

64.       Rep. David Scott

65.       Rep. John Conyers

66.       Rep. Brendan Boyle

67.       Rep. Derek Kilmer

68.       Rep. Jan Schakowsky

69.       Rep. Blake Farenthold

70.       Rep. Eric Swalwell

71.       Rep. Bill Pascrell

72.       Rep. Suzan DelBene

73.       Rep. Patrick Meehan

74.       Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman

75.       Rep. Robin Kelly

76.       Rep. Peter Welch

77.       Rep. Danny Davis

78.       Rep. Donald Beyer

79.       Rep. Kyrsten Sinema

80.       Rep. Donald Norcross

81.       Rep. Bill Johnson

82.       Rep. Filemon Vela

83.       Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger

84.       Rep. Emanuel Cleaver

85.       Rep. Joe Courtney

86.       Rep. Gus Bilirakis

87.       Rep. Gerald Connolly

88.       Rep. WM Lacy Clay

89.       Rep. Ryan Costello

90.       Rep. Anna Eshoo

91.       Rep. Elizabeth Esty

92.       Rep. Diana DeGette

93.       Rep. Daniel Lipinski

94.       Rep. Kathy Castor

95.       Rep. Ted Lieu

96.       Rep. John Larson

97.       Rep. James Langevin

98.       Rep. Jim Himes

99.       Rep. Bill Foster

100.     Rep.  Earl  Blumenauer

101.     Rep. Keith Ellison

102.     Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

103.     Rep. Jim Bridenstine

104.     Rep. Peter Visclovsky

105.     Rep. Hank Johnson

106.     Rep. Terri Sewell

107.     Rep. Salud Carbajal

108.     Rep. Joyce Beatty

109.     Rep. Dave Trott

110.     Rep. John Faso

111.     Rep. Robert Brady

112.     Rep. Greg Meeks

113.     Rep. Mike Thompson

114.     Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen

115.     Rep. Stephen Lynch

116.     Rep. Doris Matsui

117.     Rep. Julia Brownley

118.     Rep. Frank Pallone

119.     Rep. Bill Posey

120.     Rep. Al Green

121.     Rep. Adam Schiff

122.     Rep. Josh Gottheimer

123.     Rep. Adriano Espaillat

124.     Rep. Yvette Clarke

125.     Rep. Raul Grijalva

126.     Rep. Jamie Raskin

127.     Rep. Ron Kind

128.     Rep. Marc Veasey

129.     Rep. Barbara Lee

130.     Rep. Albio Sires

131.     Rep. Robert “Bobby” Scott

132.     Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

133.     Rep. Vern Buchanan

134.     Rep. Jared Polis

135.     Rep. Carol Shea-Porter

136.     Rep. Andre Carson

137.     Rep. John Katko

138.     Rep. Hakeem Jeffries

139.     Rep. Carlos Curbelo

140.     Rep. Sanford Bishop

141.     Rep. Frank LoBiondo

142.     Rep. Marcia Fudge

143.     Rep. Christopher Smith

144.     Rep. Ruben Gallego

145.     Rep. Peter Roskam

146.     Rep. Jared Huffman

147.     Rep. James Renacci

148.     Rep. Raul Ruiz

149.     Rep. Zoe Lofgren

150.     Rep. Richard Neal

151.     Rep. Vicente Gonzalez

152.     Rep. Patrick Tiberi

153.     Rep. Joseph Kennedy

154.     Rep. Tom O’Halleran

155.     Rep. Mia Love

156.     Rep. Steve Stivers

157.     Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham

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