U.S. Attorney General William Barr joined FBI Director Christopher Wray among those to speak Monday at an antisemitism summit in Washington, DC, to address the rise of anti-Jewish hate crimes in the United States.
The event focused on harassment and discrimination toward members of the Jewish faith. Barr, Wray and experts talked about Arabic news clips that showed speakers praising Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and questioning the Jewish Holocaust.
Both men spoke on the same day a video was released showing a senior Hamas official in Gaza calling on Palestinians in the diaspora to “slaughter Jews” around the world.
Barr attributed the rise in hate crimes to a toxic combination of religious intolerance, economic envy, ideological dogma, conspiracy theories and scapegoating that fuels anti-Jewish hatred. Fighting the trend, he assured his audience, is a priority for the Justice Department. He said:
I am deeply concerned about the rise in hate crimes and political violence that we have seen over the past decade. And this trend has included a marked increase in reported instances of antisemitic hate crimes. We can all agree this trend is intolerable. We must have zero tolerance for violence that is motivated by hatred for our fellow citizens whether based on race, sex, or creed. Antisemitic violence is especially pernicious because it targets both Jewish ethnic identity and religious practice.
The top U.S. law enforcement officer added there’s a delicate balance involved with free speech and eliminating anti-Semitism in society. That’s especially important on college campuses, he said, where Jewish followers and supporters are often targeted and have to hide their beliefs.
“We must ensure for the future of our country and our society that college campuses remain open to ideological diversity and respect people of all faiths,” he said.
Jason Isaacson, chief policy and political affairs officer for the American Jewish Community, said the bipartisan congressional committee has played a critical role in understanding and combating anti-Semitism.
“This is a battle for ideas and a reassertion of common values. In a very real way, we are fighting for the soul of our nation,” Isaacson said.
Those at Monday’s summit cited synagogue attacks in San Diego and Pittsburgh as examples of rising threats to the Jewish community.
UPI contributed to this story