ADL Hails House Passage of Legislation to Increase Federal Penalties for Bomb Threats Against Community Religious Centers

New York, NY, December 12, 2017 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) hailed House passage of the “Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act of 2017.” The bill, HR 1730, would expand federal law to cover bomb threats and other credible threats of violence against community religious institutions and community centers by amending the Church Arson Prevention Act, legislation ADL originally helped to draft in 1988.

The new bill was introduced last March at the height of a series of more than 150 bomb threats against Jewish community centers, synagogues, and ADL offices and a wave of harassment, threats and arsons targeting mosques.

“The bomb threats against Jewish institutions earlier this year traumatized our community institutions and caused widespread fear and anxiety,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “At a time when the FBI is documenting an increase in religiously motivated hate crimes against Jews and Muslims, this legislation provides law enforcement officials with important new investigative and prosecutorial tools to directly address those threats of violence.”

ADL praised the bill’s sponsors, Reps. David Kustoff (R-TN) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA) for their leadership in securing passage, along with lead cosponsors Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and Joe Kennedy (D-MA). We will continue to urge Senate action on their version of the legislation and press to have it enacted into law early in 2018.

Jewish institutions across the country were targeted with an unprecedented number of bomb threats and other anti-Semitic acts in 2017. Jewish Community Centers, schools, synagogues and ADL offices received calls or e-mails warning of attacks that turned out to be hoaxes. New data released last month indicated the number of anti-Semitic incidents remains significantly higher in 2017 compared to 2016, with an increase of 67 percent over the first three quarters of the year.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Today it is the world’s leading organization combating anti-Semitism, exposing hate groups, training law enforcement on hate crimes, developing anti-bias education programs for students, countering cyber-hate and relentlessly pursuing equal rights for all.

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