10/21/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/21/2020 11:15
Today, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen presented remarks highlighting the Department of Justice's work combating anti-Semitic acts at a virtual conference hosted by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo entitled 'Ancient Hatred, Modern Medium'-the first ever government-sponsored event focused on online anti-Semitism. Deputy Attorney General Rosen described just a few of the Department of Justice's many recent accomplishments in combating anti-Semitism, focusing on social media and the internet. His remarks as prepared for delivery are available here, and the full State Department conference may be viewed here.
Attorney General William Barr has emphasized that anti-Semitic acts, like other acts of violence motivated by hatred or bias, 'violate the personal security of individuals, threaten the freedom of communities to pursue their faith and way of life, and disregard the common ties that bind our Nation together.' The Department is committed to combating anti-Jewish hatred on multiple fronts and in a multi-faceted approach, using both criminal and civil statutes. In this effort, federal law enforcement agencies work in conjunction with state law enforcement, local officials, and religious communities. In the last three years, the Department of Justice has worked to protect the rights of the Jewish community, and of all faith communities, through a variety of initiatives and engagements. In addition to those set out in today's remarks at the State Department conference, those include the following:
Summit on Combating Anti-Semitism
On July 15, 2019, at its headquarters, the Department of Justice held a Summit on Combating Anti-Semitism. The Summit brought together 150 leading members of the Jewish community and featured speeches by Attorney General Barr, Deputy Attorney General Rosen, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Education Secretary Betsy Devos, Assistant Attorney General Beth Williams, Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, and Special Envoy Elan Carr, as well as prosecutors, academics, and community activists. Speakers addressed the increase in anti-Semitic incidents on campuses, the balance between fighting anti-Semitic rhetoric while respecting First Amendment freedoms, and the Department's record in prosecuting hate crimes against Jews.
Attorney General's Meeting with Religious Leaders in Brooklyn, New York
Attorney General Barr traveled to Brooklyn, New York on January 28, 2020 to meet with the heads of local Jewish community councils in areas of Brooklyn suffering from a spike in hate crimes against Jews, as well as heads of major Jewish organizations in the city. The Attorney General personally heard stories of how the Jewish community was affected by the hate crimes and exchanged ideas on how the Department could assist the community in responding to the spike. At the meeting, the Attorney General announced that in recognition of an increase in anti-Jewish hate crimes across the country, the Department would prioritize investigating and federally prosecuting these crimes, even those that would typically be prosecuted at the local level.
Attorney General's Memorandum on Combating Anti-Semitism
In conjunction with his Brooklyn visit, Attorney General Barr issued a directive to all United States Attorneys directing them to initiate or reinvigorate contacts with the Jewish community in their respective districts to reassure the Jewish community of the Department of Justice's commitment to protecting Jewish citizens. The memo directed the United States Attorneys to establish a point of contact in each of their offices for the Jewish community to report hate crimes or other discrimination. During the spring of 2020, United States Attorneys across the country met with Jewish clergy, local non-profits, and branches of national Jewish organizations.
Prosecutions of Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes
Since January 2017, the Department has charged more than 80 defendants with anti-Semitic hate crimes and related conduct, and has obtained convictions of more than 65 defendants for the same.
The Department, through the diligent work of its Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney's Offices around the country, has obtained convictions in a number of high-profile hate crime prosecutions affecting the Jewish community:
Active cases the Department is currently prosecuting include the following:
Supporting Religious Freedom including through the Place to Worship Initiative
On June 13, 2018, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Place to Worship Initiative, which focuses on protecting the rights of religious individuals and communities to build, expand, buy, or rent houses of worship and other religious facilities as guaranteed by the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). Since launching the initiative in 2018, the Civil Rights Division doubled the number of RLUIPA investigations to 15, up from an average seven a year since 2010. Cases involving the Jewish community include:
Defending Constitutional Rights During the COVID-19 Pandemic
On April 27, 2020, Attorney General Barr directed the Department, including the Civil Rights Division and all United States Attorney's Offices, to review state and local policies to ensure that civil liberties are protected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Deputy Attorney General Rosen stated in his remarks at today's conference, 'the United States Department of Justice stands firmly and unequivocally against anti-Semitism. We will not hesitate to take action where anti-Semitic conduct rises to the level of a federal crime. That is as true online as it is offline. We have no tolerance for that behavior and will continue to prosecute such conduct as appropriate. Most importantly, we will continue to uphold the rule of law for all Americans.'