Interfaith Sign-on Letter in Support of Kristen Clarke

March 12, 2021
United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary
224 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Durbin, Ranking Member Grassley, and Committee Members:

On behalf of the 102 undersigned interfaith and community-based organizations, we write to express our strong support of Kristen Clarke for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

As the nation’s top law enforcement agency, DOJ serves as an entity for advancing fair and impartial justice for everyone and a backstop for our fundamental civil rights. Therefore, it is critical that DOJ is comprised of leaders committed to ending discrimination; addressing white supremacy and hate violence; and advancing racial, gender, disability, ethnic, religious, immigrant, and LGBTQ justice. This is particularly true at a time when our country is grappling with the dangerous consequences caused by bigotry and discrimination stoked under the previous administration. The hateful rhetoric has infiltrated our discourse, social media, communities, and even Congress. Now, more than ever before, our elected and appointed leaders must be committed to a nation that is just and equitable for all people. We believe there is no better candidate to lead DOJ’s Civil Rights Division than Kristen Clarke.

Clarke has spent her entire career dedicated to the pursuit of equal justice and civil rights. She is a deeply qualified and passionate civil rights leader with an unparalleled depth and breadth of experience and is the leader our country needs in this vital role right now.

At the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Clarke has worked to promote fair housing and community development, economic justice, voting rights, equal educational opportunity, criminal justice, judicial diversity, and beyond. While Clarke served as its head, Lawyers Committee launched the Stop Hate Project specifically focused on combating hate and responding to hate crimes against communities including Muslims, Jews, immigrants, and others. Clarke formerly served as the head of the Civil Rights Bureau for the New York State Attorney General’s Office, where she led broad civil rights enforcement, including on issues of criminal justice, education and housing discrimination, fair lending, barriers to reentry, voting rights, immigrants’ rights, gender inequality, disability rights, reproductive access, and LGBTQ equality. Under her leadership, the Bureau secured landmark agreements with banks to address unlawful redlining, employers to address barriers to reentry for people with criminal backgrounds, police departments on reforms to policies and practices, major retailers on racial profiling of consumers, and one of the country’s largest school districts concerning issues relating to the school-to-prison pipeline.

At the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), Clarke led the organization’s work in the areas of voting rights and election law. Prior to joining LDF, she worked in the very office she has now been nominated to lead. She served as a federal prosecutor in the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, handling police misconduct, police brutality, hate crimes, and human trafficking cases. Clarke also worked on voting rights and redistricting cases through the Division’s Voting Section. Consistent throughout her distinguished career is a focus on strengthening democracy and ensuring justice.

We have no doubt that Kristen Clarke is the right person to ensure the safety of our communities and strengthen our civil rights protections as head of the Civil Rights Division. Given her life’s work, Kristen Clarke will restore integrity, independence, and the pursuit of justice to this critical federal agency. We urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to quickly confirm Kristen Clarke as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.

Sincerely,
National:
African American Ministers In Action
ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal
Ameinu
America Indivisible
American Friends Service Committee
American Jewish Congress
American Muslim Institution
Americans United for Separation of Church & State
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Anti-Defamation League
Arab American Institute
Avodah
Bend the Arc Jewish Action
Catholics for Choice
Emgage Action
Freethought Society
ICNA Council for Social Justice
In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda
Interfaith Voices for Reproductive Justice
Islamic Networks Group
Ismailis Rise Up
Jewish Democratic Council of America
Jewish Women International
Jewish World Watch
Keshet
Lady Liberty League
Many Voices
Muslim Advocates
Muslim Public Affairs Council
Muslims for Progressive Values
National Action Network
National Council of Jewish Women
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
North American Islamic Foundation, Inc.
Pax Christi USA
Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Clergy Advocacy Board
Reconstructing Judaism
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
SisterReach
Sojourners
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
The Sikh Coalition
The Workers Circle
Uri L’Tzedek
Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER)

State:
Carolina Jews for Justice
Faith Commons
Indiana Muslim Advocacy Network
Jewish Community Action
Muslim Alliance of Indiana
National Council of Jewish Women Arizona
National Council of Jewish Women Colorado
National Council of Jewish Women Florida
National Council of Jewish Women Georgia
National Council of Jewish Women Illinois
National Council of Jewish Women Kentucky
National Council of Jewish Women Minnesota
National Council of Jewish Women Maryland
National Council of Jewish Women Massachusetts
National Council of Jewish Women Michigan
National Council of Jewish Women Northern Virginia
National Council of Jewish Women Tennessee
National Council of Jewish Women Texas
National Council of Jewish Women Washington
New Jersey Jewish Labor Committee
New York Jewish Agenda

Local:
A Just Harvest
Bend the Arc: Pittsburgh
Darul Arqum Islamic Center
Greater Bethesda MBC

IKAR
Islamic Society of Tulsa
Jewish Democratic Women’s Salon Atlanta
Jewish Silicon Valley
Kesher Pittsburgh
McCormick Theological Seminary
Minnesota Deaf Muslim Community
Muslim Community Center
National Council of Jewish Women Atlanta (GA) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Austin (TX) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Bergen County (NJ) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Chicago North Shore (IL) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Cleveland (OH) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Essex County (NJ) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Greater Dallas (TX) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Houston (TX) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Kendall (FL) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Lakeville (FL) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Greater Long Beach (CA) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Louisville (KY) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Greater Miami (FL) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Milwaukee (WI) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Palm Beach (FL) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Peninsula (NY) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Greater Philadelphia (PA) Section
National Council of Jewish Women San Antonio (TX) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Saddleback (CA) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Sarasota-Manatee (FL) Section
National Council of Jewish Women SE Atlantic (F) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Valencia Shores (FL) Section
Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment
Sisters Need A Place

100 Days Newsletter: Day 44 – March 4, 2021


The Biden administration has nominated two NCJW partners for important positions in the Justice Department. NCJW supports Vanita Gupta for Associate Attorney General and Kristen Clarke to head the Civil Rights Division.

TAKE ACTION NOW! Watch Sheila Katz’s conversation with Kristen Clarke on Facebook live (facebook.com/ncjwinc) tonight at 6:00 pm EST!

  • Sign your section or organization on to our Jewish community letter in support of Vanita Gupta’s nomination.
  • Call your senators and urge their support for Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke.
  • Join our digital action activities on March 8 before Vanita’s hearing and all month as both nominees go through the confirmation process.

What is it?

Two gun safety bills were introduced in the House and Senate on March 2. These measures would address the deadly “Charleston” loophole that allows a gun sale to proceed if a background check has not been completed in three days, extending the time frame for law enforcement. Keep an eye out tomorrow, as another similar bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate.

How does it relate to our past work?

NCJW supports legislation to curb gun violence and championed both of these measures when they were introduced in the last Congress. The Background Checks Expansion Act was an NCJW Washington Institute 2019 lobby issue.

What can I do now?

Call your lawmakers (#202-224-3121) to encourage support using this call script:

Hi, my name is [name], and I am a National Council of Jewish Women advocate from [city, state]. As a constituent, I urge you to support universal background checks and closing the Charleston loophole. Gun violence is the leading cause of death for American children and teens. These measures, overwhelmingly supported by the public, would save lives and protect our communities.

What is it?

The Do No Harm Act (HR 1378), which preserves the Religious Freedom Restoration Act’s (RFRA) protection of religious freedom while clarifying that it cannot be used to harm others, was reintroduced in the House of Representatives on February 25. Amending the law will safeguard personal beliefs and prevent entire institutions or individuals from unlawfully discriminating against or coercing the exercise of another’s conscience.

How does it relate to our past work?

NCJW supported RFRA when it first passed in 1993. The law was intended to protect the free exercise of religion and religious minorities, such as when a Sikh student was prohibited from wearing a turban at school or when a Jewish government worker was refused time off for Rosh Hashanah. However, since then, federal, state, and local governments across the country have blatantly manipulated the law in the name of “conscience rights” and “religious liberty.” The Do No Harm Act would ensure that RFRA is never again abused in this way by clarifying that the law cannot be used to harm others.

What can I do now?

TAKE ACTION NOW! Use our Action Alert to urge your lawmakers to support the Do No Harm Act to restore RFRA to its original intent and protect freedom of and from religion today.

American Rescue Plan: The House of Representatives passed their COVID relief plan (HR 1319) on February 27 with many NCJW’s priorities, including a $15 minimum wage. Debate began in the Senate on March 3, and the Senate has changed the stimulus checks structure to impose stricter limits. They will likely remove the $15 minimum wage increase to get it passed before March 14, which is when expanded Unemployment Insurance benefits expire.

HR 5: The Equality Act (HR 5) passed the House of Representatives on February 25. This bill adds explicit protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity to our civil rights laws. The bill would also add and expand legal protections for women, people of color, and many other communities. NCJW encouraged representatives to vote yes and celebrated its passage!

NO BAN Act: The NO BAN Act, which would prevent future administrations from banning entire communities from entering the United States, was introduced to the House of Representatives on February 25. On his first day in office, President Biden rescinded the Muslim and African Ban, which banned visitors and immigrants from several countries, most of which were majority-Muslim. However, it’s still critical to pass this legislation to prevent similar bans from happening in the future.

For the People Act: The House of Representatives passed HR 1, the For the People Act, on March 3. This bill strengthens and restores voting rights, offers new protections for voters, ends the dominance of big money in politics and implements anti-corruption, pro-ethics measures to clean up government. NCJW organized nearly 80 national, state, and local Jewish organizations to sign a letter to the House supporting the bill and a recommendation that representatives vote yes. NCJW CEO Sheila Katz participated in a livestream during the vote. NCJW applauds the passage of HR 1 in the House and will next focus on the Senate.

Dream and Promise Act: This bill, long supported by NCJW, would provide a path to citizenship for young immigrants brought to the US as children and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders. (TPS allows people whose countries face war or natural disaster to live and work in the US). On March 3, it was introduced in the House of Representatives. The Senate’s equivalent of this bill — actually two bills, the Dream Act and SECURE Act — has already been introduced. NCJW supports a path to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented people in the US and urges Congress to pass this bill.

Nominations:

  • Merrick Garland, Attorney General. Approved on March 1
  • Miguel Cardona, Secretary of the US Department of Education. Approved on March 1
  • Neera TandenOffice of Management and Budget. Withdrawn on March 2. President Biden is expected to appoint Tanden to a position in his administration that doesn’t require Senate confirmation.
  • Xavier BecerraUS Department of Health and Human Services. Moved to the Senate floor for a vote following a tie) in the Senate Finance Committee on March 3.

 

Jewish Communal Endorsement for Kristen Clarke

February 17, 2021

United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary 224 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Durbin, Ranking Member Grassley, and Committee Members:

On behalf of the following 70 local, state, and national Jewish organizations, representing millions of members across the country, we write to express our strong support of Kristen Clarke for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

A central tenet of Judaism is Tzedek, Tzedek tirdof, or the pursuit of justice. Indeed, for us, part of our Jewish identity is the imperative to care about the world around us and strive to make it better. We carry out this commitment as a community by ensuring we all have access, particularly the most vulnerable among us, to our civil and constitutional rights. This, too, is the essential mission of DOJ.

The Department of Justice is the nation’s top law enforcement agency. It not only serves as a backstop for our fundamental civil rights, but as an entity for advancing fair and impartial justice for everyone in this country. The Department must be comprised of leaders committed to ending discrimination; addressing white supremacy and hate violence; and advancing racial, gender, disability, ethnic, religious, immigrant, and LGBTQ justice. As such, there is no better candidate to lead the Civil Rights Division than Kristen Clarke.

Clarke has spent her entire career dedicated to the pursuit of equal justice and civil rights. She is a deeply qualified and passionate civil rights leader with an unparalleled depth and breadth of experience, and is the leader our country needs in this vital role right now. At the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Clarke has worked to promote fair housing and community development, economic justice, voting rights, equal educational opportunity, criminal justice, judicial diversity, and beyond. Clarke formerly served as the head of the Civil Rights Bureau for the New York State Attorney General’s Office, where she led broad civil rights enforcement, including the issues of criminal justice, education and housing discrimination, fair lending, barriers to reentry, voting rights, immigrants’ rights, gender inequality, disability rights, reproductive access, and LGBTQ equality. Under her leadership, the Bureau secured landmark agreements with banks to address unlawful redlining, employers to address barriers to reentry for people with criminal backgrounds, police departments on reforms to policies and practices, major retailers on racial profiling of consumers, and one of the country’s largest school districts concerning issues relating to the school-to-prison pipeline. At the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), Clarke lead the organization’s work in the areas of voting rights and election law. Prior to joining LDF, she worked in the very office she now is nominated to lead. She served as a federal prosecutor in the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, handling police misconduct, police brutality, hate crimes, and human trafficking cases. She also worked on voting rights and redistricting cases through the Division’s Voting Section. Consistent throughout her distinguished career is a focus on strengthening democracy and ensuring justice.

As the nation grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, Black, Latino, Asian, and Native American communities bear the brunt of its economic and health damages. Along with it, the fires of hate and discrimination stoked over the last four years have infiltrated our discourse, social media,

communities, and even Congress. The devastation of this moment compels us to reimagine what kind of America we want to become after the pandemic — one that is more just and equitable for all people. One where the Justice Department will not tolerate bigotry, bias-motivated violence, and discrimination.

To achieve that future requires leadership at the Department to ensure the safety of our communities and strengthen our civil rights protections. Kristen Clarke is the right person to defend and advance these critical values.

Given her life’s work, Kristen Clarke will restore integrity, independence, and the pursuit of justice to this critical federal agency. We urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to quickly confirm Kristen Clarke as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.

Sincerely,

National:

ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal
Ameinu
American Jewish Congress
Avodah
Bend the Arc: Jewish Action
Jewish Democratic Council of America
Jewish Labor Committee
Jewish World Watch
Jewish Women International
Keshet
Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute
Mitsui Collective
National Council of Jewish Women
Playful Resilience
Reconstructing Judaism
Society for Humanistic Judaism
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
The Shalom Center
The Workers Circle

State:

Jewish Community Action (MN)
National Council of Jewish Women Arizona
National Council of Jewish Women California
National Council of Jewish Women Colorado
National Council of Jewish Women Florida
National Council of Jewish Women Georgia
National Council of Jewish Women Illinois
National Council of Jewish Women Kentucky
National Council of Jewish Women Maryland
National Council of Jewish Women Massachusetts
National Council of Jewish Women Michigan
National Council of Jewish Women Minnesota
National Council of Jewish Women Northern Virginia
National Council of Jewish Women Tennessee
National Council of Jewish Women Texas
National Council of Jewish Women Washington
New Jersey Jewish Labor Committee
New York Jewish Agenda
United Hebrew Trades – New York Jewish Labor Committee

Local:

Bend the Arc: Jewish Action Pittsburgh (PA)
Bend the Arc: Jewish Action South Jersey (NJ)
Congregation Nevei Kodesh, Colorado
IKAR, Los Angeles (CA)
Jewish Community Relations Council, Howard County (MD)
Jewish Community Relations Council, Silicon Valley (CA)
Jewish Democratic Women’s Salon Atlanta (GA)
National Council of Jewish Women Atlanta (GA) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Austin (TX) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Chicago North Shore (IL) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Cleveland (OH) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Contra Costa (CA) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Greater Dallas (TX) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Houston (TX) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Kansas City (MO) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Kendall (FL) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Long Beach (CA) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Los Angeles (CA) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Greater Miami (FL) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Louisville (KY) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Milwaukee (WI) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Nashville (TN) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Greater New Orleans (LA) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Palm Beach (FL) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Peninsula (NY) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Greater Philadelphia (PA) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Pittsburgh (PA) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Saddleback (CA) Section
National Council of Jewish Women San Antonio (TX) Section
National Council of Jewish Women Sarasota-Manatee (FL) Section
National Council of Jewish Women South East Atlantic (FL) Section
National Council of Jewish Women South Shore (NY) Section

Jewish Organization Sign-on Letter in Support of S 1

February 3, 2021

Dear Member of Congress:

The 79 undersigned local, state, and national Jewish organizations write in strong support of the transformational democracy reform package the For the People Act (H.R. 1/S. 1) and urge you to prioritize its passage. As Jews, we are commanded Tzedek, Tzedek Tirdof, to pursue justice. By enacting this bill, we can enhance integrity, fairness, and transparency in our nation’s elections, create a democracy that values all voices, and build a more just society.

The 2020 election has underscored the urgent need for democracy reform, and the common-sense reforms in the For the People Act address many of these problems. This legislation aims to accomplish three overarching goals: (1) protecting and strengthening the sacred right to vote, (2) ending the dominance of big money in politics, and (3) implementing anti-corruption, pro-ethics measures to clean up government. Without structural democracy reform, our nation will remain unable to fully address important, substantive priorities, especially critical amid a pandemic, including protecting and expanding affordable health care, stopping the spread of COVID-19, and providing the assistance and support people need to care for themselves and their families.

The reforms in the For the People Act are necessary to advance racial justice and ensure that our government works for all people, not just a powerful few. President Joe Biden has stated that a “first priority” of his administration is to lead on a comprehensive set of democracy solutions like those reflected in H.R. 1/S. 1. As such, we urge a vote on this bill as soon as possible. With your support, we can make these urgently-needed reforms a reality. Together, we can create a democracy that represents, reflects, and responds to us all.

Sincerely,

Jewish Council for Public Affairs
National Council of Jewish Women

National Organizations

ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal

Ameinu
American Jewish Congress
Anti-Defamation League
Avodah
Aytzim: Ecological Judaism
Bend the Arc Jewish Action
Habonim Dror North America
J Street
Jewish Labor Committee
Jewish Women International
Keshet
MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger
Moving Traditions
Rabbinical Assembly
Reconstructing Judaism
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Society for Humanistic Judaism
T’ruah
The Workers Circle
Union for Reform Judaism
Uri L’Tzedek

State Organizations

Arizona Jews for Justice
Carolina Jews for Justice
Jewish Community Action
Jewish Labor Committee Western Region
National Council of Jewish Women, Arizona Section
National Council of Jewish Women, California
National Council of Jewish Women, Colorado Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Florida
National Council of Jewish Women, Maryland Action Team
National Council of Jewish Women, Massachusetts
National Council of Jewish Women, Michigan Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Minnesota Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Tennessee
National Council of Jewish Women, Texas
National Council of Jewish Women, Utah Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Washington State
New Jersey Jewish Labor Committee
Tzedek Georgia
United Hebrew Trades – New York Jewish Labor Committee

Local Organizations
Baltimore Jewish Council
Buffalo Jewish Community Relations Council
Chicago Jewish Labor Committee
IKAR
Jewish Community Relations Council of Atlanta
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix
Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley
Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix
Jewish Federation of Greater Portland
Lab/Shul
National Council of Jewish Women, Atlanta Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Austin Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Chicago North Shore Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Dallas Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Miami Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Greater New Orleans Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Philadelphia Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Kendall Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Louisville Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Nashville Section
National Council of Jewish Women, New York Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Northern Virginia Action Team
National Council of Jewish Women, Palm Beach Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Rockland County Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Sarasota-Manatee Section
National Council of Jewish Women, SE Atlantic Section
National Council of Jewish Women, South Cook Section
National Council of Jewish Women, St. Louis Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Valencia Shores Section
National Council of Jewish Women, West Morris Section
Temple Beth Tefilloh
Temple Concord
The Temple

Open Letter to the Biden Administration and the 117th Congress Priorities for Action Against Antisemitism

As organizations committed to ensuring a forceful U.S. response to rising antisemitism, we are gratified by the bipartisan commitment of allies in Congress and the Administration to make the struggle against antisemitism a national priority. As a result of that long-standing support, the U.S. government has a rich arsenal of tools at its disposal to prevent and respond to it.

We have come together to elevate key principles and priorities that are essential elements of a robust, comprehensive, whole-of-government approach to address antisemitism. The Jewish community is not a monolith, and our groups have diverse areas of expertise and emphasis. But we are united in a call for the rigorous, proactive use of existing laws and tools to enhance monitoring, prevention and response. We also urge leaders to reject efforts to politicize the antisemitism issue and to work in a bipartisan way to advance these priority requests.

1. Exert moral leadership at home and abroad. Civic leaders must speak out against antisemitism in timely, specific, and direct ways. The President, Cabinet officials, and Members of Congress must use their voices, relationships and convening power to reject antisemitism and bigotry at home and abroad.

2. Improve Reporting. We cannot address a problem that we are not measuring. And, the US government data consistently show a staggering gap in reporting.

3. Enhance Jewish Community Security. Support Non-Profit Security Grants for at-risk houses of worship, schools, community centers.

4. Education. Both Holocaust education and anti-bias education should be fundamental elements of civic education in our country.

5. Urge social media platforms to curb antisemitism, Holocaust denial and harassment.

6. Use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism as an education, monitoring, and training tool.

We have attached more detailed recommendations related to these priorities. We believe that implementing them – without delay – will enhance both the safety and dignity of Jews and all groups targeted by hate. Whether promoting Jewish equality and civil rights at home, or working to protect religious freedom and human rights abroad, our experience and our history have demonstrated that fighting antisemitism strengthens the fight against hate and discrimination and helps uphold democracy’s highest principles.

Signatories List:

American Jewish Congress

Anti-Defamation League

Central Conference of American Rabbis

HIAS

National Council of Jewish Women

Rabbinical Assembly

Union for Reform Judaism

World Jewish Congress 2

Recommendations to Enhance the U.S. Response to Antisemitism

I. Improve Reporting. According to the FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics Act (HCSA) report, there are 80 cities with a population of over 100,000 that either did not report any hate crimes to the FBI or affirmatively reported zero hate crimes in 2019, the most recent year on record. These include cities like, Baltimore, Hartford, St. Petersburg, FL, Hollywood, Fl, Plano, TX, and West Palm Beach, FL. Below are recommendations to address the reporting gap.

  1. A. Support legislation to require mandatory hate crime reporting by our country’s 18,000 federal, state, municipal, and tribal law enforcement agencies.
  2. B. Encourage and incentivize state and local law enforcement agencies to participate in the FBI’s HCSA program. Fund training and prevention programs, and tie federal funding for departments to credible HCSA reports. Better hate crime reporting can deter antisemitic and other hate violence.
  3. C. Enact the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE ACT. The bill would provide state and local governments with grants to improve hate crime data collection and reporting and develop new hate crime prevention and reduction programs.

II. U.S. Global Leadership. Addressing antisemitism should be a U.S. foreign policy priority, not just for the sake of Jews, but because antisemitism threatens the core principles upon which peaceful and stable societies are built.

  1. A. Urge governments to appoint high-level officials to coordinate efforts to combat anti- Semitism and give them the political backing and resources they need.
  2. B. Leverage U.S. monitoring. The State Department annual country reports on Human Rights and International Religious Freedom Reports include reporting on antisemitism. Our diplomats abroad must be trained on the definition of antisemitism to ensure that reporting is accurate and comprehensive. The report findings must be used by diplomats and by Congress to spotlight problems and to urge action by foreign governments.
  3. C. Engage international organizations like the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations to ensure that their anti-discrimination efforts also include protecting Jews.

III. Counter online antisemitism, hate and harassment. Antisemitic hate groups and neo-Nazis are flourishing online and promoting their ideology to vast audiences.

  1. A. Congress should expand federal hate crime laws to include bias-motivated online criminal harassment like doxing and swatting.
  2. B. Press social media platforms to find and remove public and private groups focused on antisemitism, Holocaust denial, white supremacy, militia, or other violent conspiracies.
  3. C. Urge platforms to get to the root of the problem and to detoxify their algorithms, so that they stop recommending and amplifying content from groups associated with antisemitism, conspiracies, and other dangerous disinformation to users.

IV. Non-Profit Security Grants

Jewish institutions have been the target of antisemitic threats and deadly violent attacks. Congress and the administration should support robust funding for security enhancements, 3

training and outreach for houses of worship, schools, community centers, and other non-profit institutions that are objectively determined to be at increased risk. Several Jewish groups have focused on ensuring that these grants also include adequate church-state separation and anti-discrimination safeguards.

V. Anti-Bias and Holocaust Education as core parts of civic education and literacy.

  1. A. Implement the Never Again Education Act by allocating the $2 million annual appropriation to expand the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum education programming, and provide incentives for state and local education officials to teach the universal lessons of the Holocaust.
  2. B. The Department of Education should designate a focal point on Holocaust education.
  3. C. The focal point should convene a Summit on the role of Holocaust education in civics.
  4. D. Congress should fund anti-bias education in schools to equip students to understand and to actively challenge antisemitism and all forms of discrimination.

VI. Use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Definition of Antisemitism as Training and Education Guidance

  1. A. Adhere to IHRA’s adoption of the definition as a distinctly “non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism.” It was developed to help better understand modern manifestations of antisemitism, including when Jews are targeted based on an actual or perceived support for or connection to Israel.
  2. B. We support using the working definition to build awareness and train law enforcement, educators, and other leaders. The IHRA definition and its examples are informative. Using the definition itself to trigger federal or state anti-discrimination laws, though, could be abused to punish Constitutionally protected, if objectionable, speech. The examples also provide context to distinguish protected speech – including disagreement and even harsh criticism of the government of Israel – from unlawful, harassing, intimidating, and discriminatory anti-Semitism.

VII. Enforce Existing Education Anti-Discrimination and Hate Crime Laws Effectively

  1. A. Since 2010, the Department of Education has interpreted its anti-discrimination enforcement authority under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for schools and universities to include “groups that face discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics” — including Jews, Muslim, Sikhs, and others. The Department has resolved several cases involving discrimination against Jews under this authority. The Biden administration must reaffirm a commitment to this longstanding Department of Justice interpretation.
  2. B. In addition, existing federal law and hate crime laws in 46 states and the District of Columbia already criminalize crimes in which Jews and Jewish institutions are intentionally targeted because of their religion. Use the IHRA definition to support effective implementation of those laws, where appropriate.

4

VIII. Research. The government must study antisemitism and all forms of bias and hate that lead to criminal activity. These include white nationalism and white supremacy – with antisemitism at their core – which have led to deadly attacks and threats.

IX. Promote Inter-Agency Cooperation. The Obama administration’s interagency working group on hate crimes is one example of a useful mechanism to address antisemitic hate crimes.

X. Work in partnership with Jewish Communities. From policing and security to effectively leveraging America’s leadership abroad, the best policy and practices result from close consultation and partnership between officials and affected communities. Congress, the administration, and state and local officials should actively engage with communities through regular working groups to spot trends, identify challenges and explore countermeasures.

Jewish Organization Sign-on Letter: Join Ruth’s Revolution

September 25, 2020
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg always chose her words carefully from her early years as a lawyer arguing landmark cases to her powerful dissenting opinions from the bench of the US Supreme Court and finally with her dying wish to her granddaughter: that her seat not be filled until the next president is sworn in.

A trailblazer who fundamentally shifted our nation toward equality, Justice Ginsburg deserves a successor who is chosen by the next president elected by the people. With the 2020 presidential election already underway in the form of early voting and mail-in ballots, the Senate must not push through a nominee until the election results are certified and the winner is sworn in on Inauguration Day. Indeed, using the current justices as our guide, on average it takes 79 days to confirm a Supreme Court nominee — hardly enough time given the circumstances.

We believe in a federal judiciary that is of and for the people and that federal judges who serve in these lifetime appointments must be fair, independent, and qualified with a commitment to constitutional rights for everyone. This is even more critical for those appointed to serve on our nation’s highest court. Senators need more time to fully vet and meet the nominee who will serve on the highest court of the land for a lifetime, issuing decisions that will impact nearly every American in this country.

We are committed to seeing Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish fulfilled and will do everything in our power to ensure her seat is filled only after every vote is counted.

We urge the Senate to instead focus on providing relief for millions of Americans who are still suffering from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, including the families and loved ones of the nearly 200,000 people who have died, as well as the 20 million people who have lost their jobs. Responding to the urgent needs of women, children, and families requires the full attention of the Senate.

The famous injunction in Deuteronomy (16:20): Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof, or “Justice, justice, you shall pursue,” is situated in the context of verses imploring us to create a fair and impartial judiciary; our pursuit of a non-partisan judiciary is, in its essence, the pursuit of justice, and our holding fast to this standard honors the memory of a great judge and justice.

Sincerely,

National Council of Jewish Women

National Organizations

Avodah
Aytzim: Ecological Judaism Bend the Arc
Central Conference of American Rabbis Habonim Dror North America
Jewish Labor Committee
Jewish Voice for Peace Action
Jewish Women International (JWI)
Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute
Moving Traditions
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Shalom Task Force
SVARA: A Traditionally Radical Yeshiva
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights Union for Reform Judaism Wemourntoo.com
Women of Reform Judaism

State Organizations

Illinois Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC-IL)
Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action
National Council of Jewish Women, Maryland Action Team
National Council of Jewish Women, Michigan Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Minnesota Section New England
Jewish Labor Committee
New Jersey Jewish Labor Committee
New York Jewish Agenda

 

Local Organizations

Bend the Arc Jewish Action Greater Ann Arbor
Carolina Jews for Justice
Chicago Jewish Labor Committee
Congregation Bet Haverim
Congregation Beth Am
Congregation Beth Israel
Congregation Beth Shalom
Congregation Bnai Jacob of Jersey City
Congregation Dorshei Tzedak
Congregation Temple Israel Germantown Jewish Centre
IKAR
Jewish Council on Urban Affairs
Jewish Student Union at Boise State
Jewish Womenís Foundation of Greater Pittsburgh Kehillat Israel
Kehillath Shalom Kesher Pittsburgh Kol Tzedek Lab/Shul
National Council of Jewish Women, Arizona Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Atlanta Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Austin Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Bergen County Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Chicago North Shore Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Cleveland Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Contra Costa Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Dallas Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Long Beach, and West Orange County Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Miami Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Greater New Orleans Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Philadelphia Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Rochester Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Jersey Hills Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Kendall Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Louisville Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Milwaukee Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Nashville Section
National Council of Jewish Women, New York Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Northern Virginia Action Team
National Council of Jewish Women, Peninsula Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Pittsburgh Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Rockland Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Saddleback Section
National Council of Jewish Women, San Antonio Section
National Council of Jewish Women, SE Atlantic Section
National Council of Jewish Women, South Cook Section
National Council of Jewish Women, St. Louis Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Valencia Shores Section
National Council of Jewish Women, West Morris Section Oak Park Temple B’nai Abraham Zion
Peninsula Sinai Congregation Peninsula Temple Beth El
Shir Tikvah Congregation, Minneapolis Temple Beth David
Temple Emunah Temple Israel
Temple Israel of Hollywood