June 17, 2019 MEMRI Daily Brief No. 186

National Commission Needed To Monitor And Combat Anti-Semitism

June 17, 2019 | By Steven Stalinsky*
MEMRI Daily Brief No. 186

The following is an op-ed by MEMRI Executive Director Steven Stalinsky that was originally published in The Hill on May 25, 2019.

Following the recent successful and many attempted attacks on Jewish targets inside the U.S., there has been a great deal of condemnation of anti-Semitism, but almost no conversation about what to do about it. On Capitol Hill, there have been multiple statements; earlier this month, in a strongly worded bipartisan Resolution in the Senate, 39 Republicans and five Democrats expressed their commitment to combating all forms of anti-Semitism. While this and other resolutions have powerfully denounced the attacks on the Jewish community, what is needed is a plan of action to fight it.

In addition to the shootings at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa., and the Chabad synagogue in Poway, Calif., there has been a recent slew of thwarted attacks on other synagogues and Jewish targets.  Among those arrested for plotting attacks were a U.S. Army veteran who had sworn loyalty to ISIS and sought to cause "mass casualties," including against Jews; a man with his head wrapped in a kaffiyeh outside a synagogue brandishing a sword like an ISIS fighter about to behead a prisoner; a man planning to join ISIS and to attack a Montana synagogue; another expressing intent to execute White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and family for being Jewish. Additionally, an Ohio man was arrested and charged with planning a Tree of Life-style attack on a Toledo-area synagogue in the name of ISIS, telling a federal agent: "I admire what the guy [i.e. the Tree of Life shooter] did... I can see myself carrying out this type of operation inshallah."

The Jewish community is now actively training and preparing for such attacks. Exercises involving dozens of law enforcement personnel and representatives from Jewish groups have examined imaginary scenarios of simultaneous attacks against multiple targets in the U.S. And while last year's successful deadly attacks were all by white supremacists and calls now are for directing focus and resources against this threat instead of the jihadi threat, there is a need to focus on both. A major reason why there has been no jihadi attacks on Jewish targets is because of extensive counterterrorism efforts.

Additionally, over the past two years, sermons and lectures at U.S. mosques – many of them considered mainstream and celebrated for their interfaith work – have been inciting to violence against Jews. Because of the sensitive nature of this problem, there have, to date, been no serious efforts to address this issue.

What is needed to combat the rising anti-Semitism is the establishment of a National Commission, involving the cooperation of a wide range of governmental and civic bodies in the U.S. There are multiple types of official commissions that can be created for this purpose, whether Congressional, Presidential, or joint Congressional-Executive. A Congressional Commission is temporary and advisory, with members appointed partly or wholly by Members of Congress. A Congressional Advisory Commission studies a problem, provides independent advice, and makes recommendations for public policy changes. With Congressional participation, funds can also be allocated for activities. A commission created by the President or the executive branch can carry out these and other functions, or a joint commission can be created. President Trump himself has signed multiple Executive Order establishing commissions to deal with the opioid crisis and election integrity.

The role of this fact-finding and advisory Commission will be to research, investigate, monitor, and coordinate these bodies' activities. It should consist of a bipartisan board to lead its efforts, compile an annual report, and provide recommendations, and should have the authority to conduct public hearings.

The Commission's members should include individuals from the Jewish community and Congress, and representatives from the White House and from government agencies involved in dealing with anti-Semitism, including security, education, and legislature, as well as from NGOs and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Also included should be those who have been the victims of attacks and their families. Social media companies should also participate, even following the model of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) to create a body to tackle the rampant anti-Semitic content and incitement on their platforms.

Just as commissions are created for solving other nationwide crises, there is a need for the immediate establishment of a National Commission for monitoring and combatting anti-Semitism in the U.S.

* Steven Stalinsky is the executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute and the author of “American Traitor: The Rise and Fall of al Qaeda’s U.S.-born Leader Adam Gadahn.”

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