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tv   Rabbis Testify on Security Concerns at Synagogues  CSPAN  February 9, 2022 4:35am-7:00am EST

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florida rabbi and a securities expert. >> the meeting will come to order. the chair will -- is allowed to declare the subcommittee and recess at any point. good morning, everyone. i want to thank you for joining me for this important hearing. thank you to our witnesses for joining us today to discuss how the dynamic terrorism threatened landscape and -- how it affects the american jewish community and the importance of making their communities more safe. as someone who spent nearly three decades in law
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enforcement, i was extremely troubled to see neo-nazis shouting anti-semitic slurs while parading through the streets of central florida. i am relieved that the individuals who viciously attacked a jewish student have been charged of hate crimes, assault, and grand theft. for one of the group's leaders, this is the second time he has been charged with committing violent acts against innocent bystanders this year. these hateful and violent acts followed several incidents in which anti-semitic flyers were left outside homes across south florida. we are joined today by rabbi yosef konikov from chabad of south orlando, who i have been honored to join for joyful celebrations with his congregation. i appreciate your leadership during these difficult events in our community and stand with you in rejecting anti-semitic attacks on our neighbors, friends, and families.
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all of this comes at a time when, as we learned at last week's hearing, we are seeing fringe extremist ideologies , being mainstreamed and violent ideologies from across the spectrum embrace anti-semitism. let me be clear-- anti-semitism and targeted violence against religious institutions have no place in the united states of america. today, 20 years after 9/11, the terrorism threat landscape is far more complex with nonprofits such as religious institutions increasingly targeted by domestic and foreign terrorists.
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last month, the nation collectively held its breath as congregants at sabbath service in a texas synagogue were held at gunpoint by a terrorist. i commend the heroic actions of rabbi cytron-walker, one of our witnesses here today, who grabbed a chair and heaved it at the gunman, allowing the congregants to escape. in other words, he took matters into his own hands, allowing the congregants to escape. during the colleyville attack, rabbi charlie credited his quick actions security to security training that funded, in part, by the nonprofit security grant program. under this program at-risk religious institutions and other
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non-profits receive support to implement protective measures. these grants are critically important for religious institutions, and they keep communities safe, which is more important now than ever. as the terrorism landscape has grown more complex and houses of worship are increasingly being targeted, the demand for this program has risen exponentially. to meet this demand, congress has increased funding for nonsecurity grant program. even with the recent increases, we still see a growing need for organizations to access this funding. with the risk of attacks against faith-based communities, we must continue to invest in their security. throughout my time in congress, i have consistently advocated for increased funding for this critical program.
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i was pleased to support a $100 million increase in the build back better act last year and, last week, joined my colleagues in calling for additional appropriations for the program for next year. we have a great panel today. i look forward to hearing from our witnesses today about the challenges the american jewish community faces and how congress can do a better job to protect them. i'm not sure if the ranking member from my committee has joined us. it is now my pleasure to introduce the ranking member of the adversity preparedness recovery and response committee, the gentlewoman from my home state of florida, for an opening statement. >> thank you, chairwoman, and
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thank you to all my colleagues and our witnesses for being here today. before i begin, i would like to take a moment to recognize rabbi charlie who's quick thinking and use of his security training helped save lives. without a doubt, he absolutely saved lives. i sincerely appreciate you taking the time to share your experiences here today with us. i would also like to recognize the dedicated federal, state, and local law enforcement officers who answered the call that day. our first responders put their lives on the line every single day and we thank them for helping keep our communities safe. i would like to thank you all for convening this hearing today to discuss the nonprofit agouti program and the critical role that this program plays in protecting our houses of worship. the event that took place in the
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synagogue is unfortunately just the latest anti-semitic attack that has plagued jewish communities both at home and abroad in recent years. in 2017, -- much closer to home, a man shouting anti-semitic slurs open fire inside the tree of life synagogue in pennsylvania, killing 11. in december 2019, there was an attack in jersey city with four victims left dead. while faith-based communities across the country face varying levels of discrimination, the american jewish community continues to face of persistent threat of violence. this is the threat that has been shown to come from a variety of ideological motivations. according to the fbi's hate crime statistics, and 2020 there were 1174 victims who were
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targeted due to their religion. of those victims, the jewish community accounted for a staggering 54.9%. nearly 55%, that is a staggering number, and unacceptable. these reported anti-semitic events occurred at jewish institutions such as synagogues, jewish community centers, and jewish schools. the report included harassment, and vandalism. while the continued prevalence of these attacks can sometimes the overwhelming, as rabbi charlie showed us, -- one of the most important resources available is this competitive
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grant program that provides funding to support activities to nonprofit organizations that are at high risk for a terror attack. the program seeks to integrate the preparedness activities of nonprofit organizations with the broader, state, tribal, and territorial, highlighted by the fact that in 2020 one, more than 3300 nonprofit organizations submitted applications, almost 40% of the nonprofits that applied have never received this funding. however, due to the widespread demand, less than half of the nonprofits that applied ended up receiving funding. i remain committed, along with chairwoman demings, to strengthen our nation's overall emergency preparedness by
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supporting programs such as this. i also remain committed to working in a bipartisan manner to stop and combat anti-semitism and violence across all religious groups. freedom of religion is a cornerstone of our constitution and any violation of this freedom should not be tolerated. for this reason, i put forward a resolution condemning terror acts on the congregations. in closing, i am incredibly proud to represent the third congressional district, which has an incredible, vibrant faith community. it is home to the largest student group in the nation. i look forward to the ways they have used the grant program to protect their faith community
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and any recommendations they have to improve this program moving forward. with that, think you, chairwoman, and i yield back. >> the chair now recognizes the chairwoman of the subcommittee on intelligence and counterterrorism, the gentlewoman from michigan, for an opening statement. >> thank you, madam chair, and a warm welcome to all of our witnesses. since i became chair of the subcommittee on intelligence and counterterrorism last year, we focused on how the threat to our communities has evolved over the last several years from international terrorism to homegrown and domestic violent extremism. more and more we are finding these extremist ideologies don't just exist in isolation, the lines between hate and terror and conspiracy are increasingly blurring together. the latest reminder of this truth and the catalyst for this hearing is what happened and what we saw in colleyville,
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texas, last month. ordinary americans came face-to-face with what happens when anti-semitic ideology, terrorist ideology is mixed with historic conspiracy theories about jewish influence. this evolving threat is one that the department of homeland yesterday in their latest national terrorism bulletin, and as john greenblatt told our committee last week, anti-semitism is at the beating heart of this extremist ideology. and therefore madam chair, i ask unanimous consent to place in the record the national terrorism advisory system bulletin that was issued yesterday by dhi. >> without objection. >> let's just be clear about hollywood, -- the colleyville -- this was not an isolated incident. the last five years have seen a 60% increase in anti-semitic incidents nationwide with 2020 marking the highest amount since
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they began tracking the incidents in 1970. we felt this particularly acutely in the state of michigan where i'm from, where we saw 21% increase from graffiti to zoombombing, in the weeks after colleyville, it has become clear that this tragedy, like so many before it, has become a rallying point for hate and extremism of all kinds. al qaeda supporters, white supremacist, holocaust deniers, qanon conspiracy theorist, islam a focus, all have seized onto this particular tragedy for their own twisted into. this growing threat can be demoralizing, but as our witnesses today will note, we are far from powerless against it. today we have the rare ability to not only discuss the tools we know are effective in protecting against violent hate, we will hear from someone who can speak to its value better than anyone. truly honored we are able to
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have rabbi charlie cytron-walker with us today. simply put, rabbi charlie's actions last month saved lives and as he said they were made , possible by the training and support he received, before the incident, including through the nonprofit security grant program. we've seen the value of this program across michigan. when one of the largest mosques in my district faced a flurry of anti-islamic harassment and vandalism just after the christchurch shooting, we brought them together with leaders from the jewish community, including the rabbi who married me and worked , together to secure nsgp funding to protect their house of worship. since 2019, this program has provided nearly $7 million to secure over 70 synagogues, mosques, churches, schools, and community centers across michigan. over $500,000 just to those in my district, including churches in brighton and okemos, a parish in pinckney, michigan state's
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hillel in east lansing, and, again, the islamic association in rochester hills. but we know there's still more we can do: both in closing the $200 million funding shortfall we saw last year, which i've advocated for along with over 170 of my colleagues, and in making the nsgp easier to access for our smaller communities. which is something the rabbi and i spoke about. today's hearing is focused on some of the most pressing policy issues and threats before our committee. but for me, it's also deeply personal. as it happens, rabbi charlie is a native michigander, with his -- from the lansing area which i represent. his mom still lives there and he actually went to summer camp with my brother. but as other of our witnesses, our wonderful representatives tonight, i want to recognize their work on these issues for the long term.
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lastly, i want to recognize the perverseness of having to secure our houses of worship the way my colleagues and i had to harden our facilities when i served in places like iraq. while we work to prevent these tragedies from occurring, it's also our responsibility to ensure that the same terrace institutions and sacred places are not the most vulnerable. we have seen the contradiction between the spirit of charity and welcoming people into places like the synagogue in colleyville, and then the threats that our faith communities are facing. but that openness, which moves the congregation to open up their sanctuary to a stranger in need, that is a strength in our community. we need to do everything we can to secure it. so looking forward to discuss how we can continue to protect these houses of worship, and with that, i yield back. >> the chair now recognizes the ranking member of the
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subcommittee on intelligence and counterterrorism, the gentleman from texas, for an opening statement. >> thank, chairwoman demings. it's very important today, and i really appreciate the efforts we are going through here to hold this important joint subcommittee hearing and to thank our witnesses for your time this morning, in a discussion on issue that threatens the safety and security of americans across the country, and unfortunately it is pervasive throughout the world. the jewish community is targeted more often than any other religious group in the united states, since the fbi began collecting crime data in the 1990's, it has ranged from 600-1200 incidents each year. quite frankly, that data being voluntary can probably be under representative of the true facts.
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jewish americans were the target of nearly 60% of all religiously motivated hate crimes, despite accounting for less than 2% of the total u.s. population. it is imperative that we get a better understanding of the threat that jewish americans face every day and how federal and local law enforcement can better work together to protect not just this demographic, but also against any sort of hate crimes. it is completely unacceptable. i'm especially grateful to have rabbi charlie here today as a witness, first off, sir, you are a hero, and we are grateful for the bravery you showed in a very trying time. barely a month ago, the rabbi and three other members of the congregation were taken hostage on a saturday in colleyville,
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texas. our comms goal was allegedly to secure the release of a pakistani terrorist who was serving in 86 year term in a fort worth prison for the attempted murder of u.s. officers in afghanistan. the rabbi waited for an opportune moment and acted. were absolutely grateful for your quick thinking, your relic actions, your courage, and the fact that you were prepared. it is unfortunate that we have to be thinking like that, but i very much appreciate your courage that we didn't have an incident that could have been worse. we owe it to all the houses of worship across america and especially to art synagogues to prevent -- at the federal level we must make improvements with our visa waiver program to
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ensure that others with violent criminal histories are known to dhs before they are allowed to enter the united states, to move freely and threaten any american citizens. we must also ensure that information sharing continues to be strong and continues to move between these agencies to detect threats so that we can prevent situations like colleyville from happening. what brings us here today, we must continue our support of faith-based communities through the nonprofit security grant program. i'm very interested to hear from our witnesses today as to how they are working to protect jewish synagogues, schools, and recreational facilities. i'd like to learn more about the threats that we face, that they face, and the partnerships that we see, the reporting capabilities and how information sharing is really working. i'm interested in those details so that we can protect our
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houses of worship, so that we can continue to have the freedom that our framers and our constitution allows and that quite frankly makes this the greatest country in the world. it is essential to our safety and security and it is essential to being an american. an attack on jewish members of our community is an attack on the very pillars of the religious freedoms that our country was founded upon. in closing, i'd like to thank our witnesses, i'd like to thank chairwoman demings for holding this very important hearing, and i yield back. >> is now my honor to recognize the chair of the full committee, the gentleman from mississippi, mr. thompson, for an opening statement. >> thank, chairwoman demings for holding this tommy -- timely
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hearing. in early 2020, in the wake of anti-semitic attacks on jewish communities in new york and new jersey, including a deadly invasion of a rabbi's home during chanukah, the committee held a series of hearings on the topic. at the time, we received testimony from a diverse group of jewish leaders about what the federal government should be doing to respond to the rise in anti-semitic terrorism and violence. they issued an urgent call for increased funding for the nonprofit security grant program which congress answered. funding was doubled to $180 million. earlier this congress, the house passed the build back better act which would add $100 million to the program. last week, we received compelling testimony from jonathan greenblatt, the head of anti-defamation league, about
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how the jewish community is a primary target for violent extremists from across the ideological spectrum. certainly, last month's attack on congregation beth israel in colleyville, texas illustrates that fact as the perpetrator was cheered by both violent white supremacists and islamist terrorists. today, we are fortunate to have a hero in our midst. rabbi cytron-walker, thank you for joining us and being so willing to share your story. i understand you relied on knowledge gained from security trainings to bring the incident being to a peaceful conclusion, and your steadiness and courage were undoubtedly important factors. on the subject of the colleyville attack, i would note that the committee is conducting aggressive oversight into this incident and met just last week
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with the fbi and other officials. while the attacker appears to have been motivated by the desire to force the release of an islamist terrorist, the approach he took was predicated on the belief in historic and dangerous anti-semitic tropes about so-called "jewish power." such tropes are a prominent feature of a number of conspiracies espoused by qanon and others and put real people in danger. it falls to all of us to speak out loudly against them. as someone with a long history with the nonprofit security grant program, i am pleased that we are holding this hearing today to get testimony on the record about the importance of the program and why its funding should be significantly increased. with that, madam chair, i yield back. >> we will remind you that the
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committees will operate according to the guidelines laid out by the chairman and ranking member in the february 3 colloquy regarding procedure. without objection, members of the subcommittee shall be permitted to sit and question the witnesses. i now welcome again our panel of witnesses. i will recognize the gentlewoman from michigan, ms. slotkin, to interview the first witness. >> thank you, madam chair. it is my honor to introduce rabbi walker. americans have come to know him for his actions that saved lives. he graduated from the university of michigan, which we won't hold against him, in 1998, and he received his rabbinical ordination from hebrew union college in 2006. along the way he worked with the
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homeless population in ann arbor and the civil rights organization in detroit and has been recognized or his leadership on a whole range of issues, all in him will maddock of the warm spirit which he brings. we are proud to call him a proud michigander and native of lansing, michigan, which i represent. on the day of the attack, i found myself talking to his sister and through the family rabbi, to his mother as the events unfolded. just making sure to pass along the great information or the important information i was getting from the department of homeland security, we ended up becoming quickly connected, as did the entirety of the detroit jewish community on that day, and no family should ever have to go through what that family went through, watching the rabbi. after speaking with rabbi charlie in the days since, i've been really moved by the courage and his exceptional presence of
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mind during those incidents, which i know from serving three tours in iraq, when you're adrenaline is going and are under threat, it's very hard to have presence of mine, and frankly his perspective on events, and using this awful experience to advocate for the protection of other communities in need. we spoke on the phone, we spoke about posttraumatic stress, and how important leadership is in these moments. and about these moments in our lives that really give us purpose and give us mission. so rabbi charlie, it is our privilege to have you with us today to give you the opportunity to share your story with congress, with the world, we feel really proud to host you at this event and i'm very glad for the opportunity as a fellow jewish michigander to welcome you to the committee. >> our second witness is a rabbi
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from south orlando. in 1999, he and his wife founded the center that includes a hebrew school, preschool, a summer camp, and several other educational programs and activities. in 2009, he also founded a private jewish elementary school. again, welcome, rabbi. our third witness is the honorable eric d finger cut -- fingerhut. he is a president and ceo of the jewish federation of north america. he has had a distinguished career in public service, including presenting ohio's 19th congressional district through 1995. local mac to the house of representatives, congressman fingerhut. our fourth and final witness is michael masters. he is a national director and ceo at the secure community
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network, previously he served as senior vice president of a group and as executive director of the department of homeland security and emergency management for cook county, illinois, where he coordinated the homeland security and emergency management system. we are so looking forward to hearing from our witnesses today. without objection, the witness's full statement will be inserted in the record. i now ask that each witness will summarize their statement for five minutes, beginning with rabbi cytron-walker: chairwoman demings, ranking member, chairman thompson, thank you so much for the opportunity to share some thoughts with you
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this morning. this is the first time i have appear before a congressional committee, it is great to see that there are some a fellow texans and michiganders on the subcommittee. i'd like to take a moment before turning to my remarks to publicly thank chairwoman slotkin for her kind introduction and even more for her thoughtful outreach to my family during and after that traumatic day. life is filled with contradictions. today i am filled with mixed and even contradictory emotions. on the one hand, i am truly horrified that in our society today religious leaders must devote themselves to security trading -- training. how to harden our facilities is anathema to religious ideals of showing love to strangers. but i am grateful to be here.
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i'm grateful that six years ago almost to the day i attended a security summit hosted by the fbi, homeland security, and all regions attorney general office. with my education related to active shooter's, since then i effort to dissipated in about a half dozen security worship -- workshops in the security communities network. those help me to be alert, look for an opportunity, and gave me the courage to act when i needed to. i am so grateful just a few months after the summit that our congregation from the first security subcommittee. their work was responsible for numerous enhancements, educational sections and the development of our security actions plan. they develop a strong
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relationship between the colleyville pb and congregation beth israel. the police officers at cbi and you our building and knew us. all of their work made a dramatic difference. i am so grateful for their financial support our members that made our security plans possible. that included upgrading our security cameras which was critical to law enforcement. matthew desarno, special agent in charge of the field office has said that the video coverage gave the decision-makers, negotiators and others general situational awareness. as grateful as i am for the support and funding under the nonprofit security grant, my understanding is that the funding is not at a level to meet the urgent needs of the communities it was created to protect. every congregation needs to be prepared, there is a gap between
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and the need for funding is profound. in 2021, fewer than half of the nonprofit security grant program applications were approved. further, getting the situation, it is my understanding that if an institution does not receive a much-needed security grant, there's no indication of where their application fell short. without feedback it is impossible to improve the application for the future. that's disheartening at a time when religious institutions need reassurance and support. perhaps fema or the appropriate agency could be required to provide some type of response to a grant application. i know that would impose an additional burden which would need to be alleviated by additional funding. in small congregations we face special challenges in dealing with government grants. we have a part-time administrative assistant and myself paid almost all of the work running our congregation is
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done by our members as volunteers. just as the irs provides short forms for organizations, fema and other agencies could do the same here or find another way to lower the barriers for smaller congregations. the morning of january 15 when the gunman arrived it was me and one volunteer in the building. i was running late. i was finishing my preparations for the reading, organizing the online set up, checking the sound, and in the midst of trying to do a million different things a stranger came to the door. i have thought about that moment a great deal. i welcomed a terrorist into my congregation. i live with that responsibility. it's important for you to understand that this was not a matter of me opening the door just because i value hospitality. i do value hospitality.
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the torah scroll that we read from each week was gifted to our congregation thanks to hospitality. i try to live that value everyday. like so many congregations of all backups, cbi strives to be a house of prayer for all people. at the same time, i also value security. to a small congregation i am rabbi, tech support and gatekeeper. but after a brief word, he appeared to be who he said he was. that was just the first analysis, yes. i also spoke with him throughout the process to learn his story, who was he. headed to get to cbi? that conversation was welcoming and give me an opportunity to see if he was acting nervous, or
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if his story didn't add up. security and hospitality can go hand-in-hand. i was running late, but i spent time to see where any red flags. i did not see any. i was wrong. i share this because despite all the plans and on the -- funding and courses, i still opened the door. but because of all the plans and funding and courses, and dozens of moments that happen to go our way, we were able to escape. and right now, there are far too many houses of worship that are just beginning the process of worship that we started six years ago. there are far too many houses of worship that have developed plans and are counting on the nonprofit security grant program to put them in place and help them feel more secure in their spiritual home. right now, there are far too many houses of worship that will get the support they need.
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especially small congregations. tragically, we live in a world where all houses of worship need protection. all of us need protection. and i believe that both democrats and republicans desperately want to change that reality. changing our reality all at once is too much. that's why rabbi tarfon reminds us we are not obligated to complete the work, but we cannot neglect it. i'm not asking to fix everything, but increasing funding for and making appropriate adjustments to the nonprofit security grant program , but kinds of rep -- record men nations that mr. finger tons will be testifying to later on. that positive step in the right would be an incredibly positive step in the right direction. it is an honor for me to speak with you today. thank you for the opportunity. >> thank you, rabbi
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cytron-walker for your testimony. i now recognize rabbi rabbi konikov to summarize his statements for five minutes. rabbi konikov: thank you for allowing me to participate in today's hearing. and thank you to our chair val demings for inviting me, and for all she does for our district and great country. my name is rabbi joseph konikov, senior rabbi at the chabad center for jewish life serving the south orlando community. that mission in which i engaged together with thousands of colleagues across all 50 states is to share the torah's message of love, unity and kindness.
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today people of all backgrounds come to find meaning, strength and encouragement. we are well known for our nonjudgmental approach and acceptability. this is been very exciting to me especially since my own grandfather tried to do the same in russia years ago but was persecuted for his practice of faith. communism did not allow him to practice his religion openly so he fled to these shores. and thankfully found the wonderful country, the land of the brave, where we can practice religion without fear or danger. sadly, new realities are echoing the dangers of the last generation. this time out from the government but from radicals and misguided citizens, and these are causing many members of our community and many others as well to suddenly feel uncomfortable, and even afraid
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to visit our center and enjoy its many offerings. it's well beyond our own centers. many hesitate to openly observe our religion, to study with us, or just to come by to get inspired. suddenly, we have become occupied with trying to call people from their immediate fears of physicals threat. each new attack only exacerbates their fears. when i decided to be a rabbi, i never envisioned that contending with physicals threats would be part of my spiritual mission in the usa. as we just heard from charlie cytron-walker, the recent attack in colleyville, texas, the first reaction i heard from my community members was i am so worried, my heart goes out to them. but the next thing i typically heard was rabbi, that could've been us. indeed there has been a disproportionate amount of
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incidents at facilities led and operated by my colleagues. they make people hesitate before bringing their kids to a place that is in truth the healthiest place for a child. this is so unfortunate. too often people call me and say rabbi, i just want to check if there is a guard, otherwise i don't think i am going to come. for us in our lender, we not -- in our lender, we are regrettably on the frontlines of these incidents where too often there are hate crimes. just two weeks ago in orlando neo-nazis placed flags, attacked a motorist, and caused general security alerts. a few months ago, the same group stationed themselves in front of our own chabad center for three hours, demonstrating with swastikas, hateful speech,
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yelling and cursing, all with the intention to intimidate our cup on center -- our chabad center. thankfully, law enforcement arrived. they prevented any harm coming to our community members. we have here on the screen a flyer that was distributed throughout the central florida area related to covid, how the jews are to blame for the covid agenda. it is these types of things that really frighten people in the community, especially when people are already hesitating coming back to the center or synagogue due to covid.
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and when they see these conspiracies being shared, it only exacerbates their fears. adl's most recent audit of anti-semitism in the united states are more than 2100 acts of assault, vandalism and harassment, on an receptacle sent over the previous year. our center has been the victim of online threats, including a series of phone threats which was dealt with thanks to the work of the fbi. just this week, as we were trying to give out free food to families, a woman turned to me and said i don't think this is safe. anyone could drive through here and cause harm. trying to reassure her, i responded someone could also do harm on your way home. she responded, i am not afraid at home. i am afraid here. the united states must help its citizens feel protected so they can practice their religion freely.
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this is a cornerstone of this great nation. as the largest synagogue, more than 200 in florida alone, the movement chabad is responsible for the spiritual health of aliens. -- millions. as well as other communities around the country to deter, detect, delay and defend ourselves from physicals harm. the nsg c program is an amazing program, but it is very competitive and fewer than half of applicants were awarded nationally last year this voyeur 2021 -- fiscal year 2021. we did receive a grant in 2020, but because of cover delays we
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have not been able to implement the grant yet sadly. there are ways to mention -- cut down the time in order to implement the grants and ways to perhaps advance money to allow the process to begin although it's mentioned in the program, perhaps something can be done immediately in order to protect the sites. i also feel that perhaps we need more funds in order to allow for everyone that needs to be protected. perhaps $500 million should be appropriated to ensure security for the homeland. i appreciate that our representatives in washington maintain close contact with the department of homeland security. and have contributed to
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implementation of these programs. i close by quoting again, and always declared that the jewish people will survive, and i trust in god to remain steadfast. standing for a brighter era of world peace, he said, we must stand proud and strong, and continue to be a shining right -- light and moral compass. he repeatedly implored the government of the united states builds on the principles of faith, trust in god, and justice , to stand by our side to secure our right to live in peace. i stand here today as a representative of every jew, and shoulder to shoulder with every peaceloving citizen of this great nation to urge our leaders
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to significantly increase efforts and do everything on a power to secure our safety and freedom, so that we may continue to be a light to the nation. as it is written in kings 1, a passage quoted by george washington to the early gators -- jewish community, no man shall be afraid. i angrily await the fulfillment of a prophecy when nations shall not lift up sword against nation, the world will know more no more, there will be no hatred or jealousy, and the world will be filled with the knowledge of god freely in our days. >> thank you, rabbi konikov for your testimony. the flyer that you presented will be entered into the record. i recognize congressman fingerhut to summarize his statement for five minutes.
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mr. fingerhut: members of the esteemed subcommittee, chairman thompson, it is indeed a privilege to be back in the house of representatives. 94 convening this morning's hearing. i am a former member of congress, i also served 10 years in the ohio senate. i had the privilege of serving as chancellor of the ohio public university system, i mention that because i have the responsibility of sharing a statewide task force on campus security after the shootings at virginia tech of 2007. i now serve as president and ceo
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of the jewish federation of north america, and over 300 smaller networks of jewish communities. i know that the distinguished members of this committee are familiar with the work of the jewish federation and with our volunteer leadership in respective communities. we thank you for the many ways and what you have supported and enhanced our mission across people spectrum. community has always been a core concern of our jewish federation. rabbi konikov beautifully stated. it is important to say that, a fact that we never forget not for a single moment.
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nevertheless we americans are not immune to the viruses of hate fedor dramatically on the rise at home and abroad. he spoke to the increased islands attacks on faith-based institutions. these are not statistics, let me name some of them. the 2006 deadly attack on the jewish federation of greater seattle. the 2009 deadly attack on the united states holocaust memorial museum. the 2012 deadly attack in wisconsin. the 2014 attack on a jewish community center in orland park, kansas. a 2016 attack on the african evangelist church in charleston. in 2018 attack on the tree of life synagogue in pittsburgh, pennsylvania. the 2019 attack in poway,
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california. since then we have interior cash advance the most intense period of violent attacks on jews in this country. esteemed representatives, this is a moment of unique prices -- crisis. we respectfully but urgently asking to respond and encourage congress to respond in full. it is the responsibility of government to keep all citizens say found their places of worship, but we and the jewish federation of also accepted the collective possibility to ensure that all jewish organizations are fully protected. we have raised and will continue to raise significant funding for security work. the resources needed are vast and ever increasing we have focused our efforts on two major
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areas, first on providing expert security guidance to every community throughout our system. as we grow these initiatives, they will help you address the concerns with smaller communities. secondly, the physicals security of our institutions and enhancing their preparedness against future attacks. in 2004, we help create the security communication network and proposed and work with congress to create this federal nonprofit security grant program. both of these are not crucial pillars of the safety and security of the shape -- jewish you will hear from my calling michael masters about the role that fdn plays partnering with jewish federations in organizing local security initiatives. 45 of the one on 46 committees
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now have organized initiatives that have been graded on a partnership with fdm. today we are working with ftm to expand this umbrella to incorporate every community throughout the united states through our lives secure campaign, one of the largest initiatives in our history. even with expensive funding, and an additional infusion of significant government resource, it is necessary to achieve a level of security that we definitely need. members of the community and as my witnesses have mentioned, the fema nonprofit security program is that essential public-private partnership. we are so grateful for its resources, but it is not without its challenges as others have noted. five quick points and suggestions for improvement. first is improving the funding level what you have referred to.
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there are between 400 thousand houses of worship in the united states and one point 2 million registered nonprofits, all of them could be potentially eligible. even if only 1% of these organizations know about and apply for the program in a given cycle of the fema, local and state authorities would be inundated with applications, five times as many as applied in fy 2021. as we have shared with you based on our best information, we believe that full funding would increase the total to 300 $50 million. the program lacked sufficient management and administrative support, and has crippled on messiahs is 2018 -- quadrupled in size since 2018. fema and the agency struggled to keep up with the necessary
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administrative oversight to carry out their duties. we support congress allowing the ftbm office to use some of these funds to cover some of their management costs. a quick point, as they go through the application process we encourage the use of the funds for this purpose as well. fourth, encourage the nsa program to be waived from the requirement of the paperwork requirements act so they can work more quickly. finally, they lack the statutory authority to respond to the increasingly complex threats in the landscape. we urge congress during -- to include statutory language allowing fema to include hate and grievance based crimes.
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i welcome any questions you may have. . >> thank you congressman fingerhut. now we will recognize mr. masters to summarize his statement for five minutes. >> chairwoman, ranking member, members of the committee, distinguished members of the subcommittee, while the united states remains one of the safest places in the world for our community. we must make no mistake, america's jewish community is under attack. thank you all for taking actions to stop it. i'm the ceo of the national security network -- community network, we work on behalf of and with the jewish federation of north america and my colleague mr. fingerhut under his leadership. we collectively represent 90% of the jewish community across north america.
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every day we are sharing intelligence with law enforcement and community partners developing best practice safety policies, undertaking, conducting lifesaving training and responding to incidents. we work with organizations animation every one of your homesteads. we are counting on all of you to support the funding desperately needed to protect our community. it is critical for your subcommittees to understand that august 22, 20 21 was a day that helped to save lives. scn work with fort worth to lead the congregation in colleyville, texas. they trained the rabbi to recognize suspicious behavior. let me just say how honored and moved in to be participating in this hearing with rabbi charlie. teach people to commit to action.
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this is what the rabbi and others did on veterans day. thanks to the efforts of law enforcement, and most abruptly the actions of the rabbi and hostages, we are able to talk about what we know it saves lives. our job is to secure our committees of the jewish people can safely gather. as a nonprofit organization we are not volunteers or private contractors, we are security professionals. i have personally served on a multiple law enforcement and homeland security roles as well as the united states marine corps. as a security expert, i can attest that famous nonprofit security program has placed the faith-based community on a better position. it will provide full approved doors, shatterproof glass, secure entry systems and so much more like some of the cameras
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that were used by law enforcement on january 2. thanks to recent changes it is now protecting places like charleston. the funds can now be used to support training, like the training used in colleyville. it can literally be the difference between life and death. also that americans can worship and gather in. -- in peace. the jewish community teaches welcome to strangers. we have to ensure that our institutions remain open and welcoming, balancing the diverse needs of our community while staying safe and secure. comprehensive best practice approaches to security allow for that. the nsgp is a vital part of our effort, supporting our work. we know the demand for nsgp funds far outpace is what is available. any additional appropriations will allows to reach more communities.
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as we have heard, the jewish community is the number one target for religiously motivated head rhymes that hate comes. -- hate crimes. we specifically reference the ongoing calls for violence directed at artists, mass gatherings, and faith-based institutions to include churches, synagogues and mosques. we see the result he of this on tomorrow work every day. in 2021, jsoc took in over 11,000 incident reports. we reported 100 to law enforcement. the attack in colleyville is just the latest and stark reminder of why this hearing is important. we don't rely on miracles. lester, we trained over 17,000
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members of the jewish community. in the last four weeks, we trained over 12,000. there is a lesson to be learned, we will not use the time and place of the next incident, but we can choose our preparation. as rabbi charlie noted, congregation beth israel worked long and hard to prepare. but there are too many members of our community who have not yet been reached. every jewish facility in america has to be prepared. every member of our community must be trained, are efforts must be specific and ongoing just like we do with fire drills. this is what the jewish community led by mr. fingerhut and i are working to do. congress plays a critical role by funding the nsg b. no one in this country should ever question whether it is safe to walk into a religious institution. an attack on any religious institution is an attack on all of us. teh nsgp has assisted but there
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is a lot more work to do, and we do not have time to lose. several weeks ago, we saw the impact. rabbi cytron-walker showed us the difference committing to action can make. let us honor them and their efforts by being as committed. and you for inviting me to testify. >> thank you for a testimony, i will remind the subcommittee that we will each have five minutes for questions. one of our witnesses has a hard stop, so we want to be mindful of that and get to each member on the call. i will recognize myself for five minutes or less. rabbi konikov, as we've already discussed, we've seen the rise in anti-semitism on display in florida. we talked about the
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demonstrations of the neo-nazis in the place your diver fall home that you and i both go home. >> could you give me a quick overview of your view on the current environment? what are your views on the current threat? rabbi konikov: in my opinion, there are people that unfortunately have hateful views. sometimes some of these groups that do demonstrations, it actually brings to the surface some of those, we will call them crazies or hateful people, and that increases the danger. they had a sign that said if you agree with both, honk your horn. that was disturbing to me, at
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the synagogue most people did not, but every once in a while there is a holland -- horn being hauled. they want to bring out other people to follow them. each event that occurs increases the danger, unfortunately. >> again thank you for being with us. i am going to recognize the gentleman from florida for questioning. >> thank you, chairwoman demings. a couple of questions for congressman fingerhut. you had stated that in the wake of the tree of life shooting that the pace of what you are building out the security network is not fast enough. out of that mission change -- how did that mission change and
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has fema taken steps to improve outreach to the faith community, and what suggestions can you make? mr. fingerhut: that you, there is no question that the tree of life shootings in pittsburgh where the jewish community's 9/ 11, it was a most horrific incident in the history of this country, we have to do what the united states did, we we have to build out a comprehensive system of security. we were already well underway in building a local community secure initiative through the federation. it provides security that includes every synagogue, every
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hillel, every chabad. then we work with the federation to raise the funds to build out that security. the more professional they are, the more successful they are in applying for nonprofit security grants because these require a level of expertise. together with our partners, we have helped local communities with that expertise to apply for the grant. we've also been successful in helping other faith-based communities with that expertise as well. as i mentioned in my written testimony, and i appreciate the chance to elaborate, the state authorities who administer these grants and fema lack the resources to themselves provide the help to the nonprofit and faith-based institutions.
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as i mentioned, we are talking about close to half a million faith-based institutions in this country and well over one million nonprofit institutions. as everybody were accepted this need if there were to apply it, the system would be completely overwhelmed. we strongly urge that as part of the action this committee recommends congress take would be to authorize additional funding within fema to be able to assist nonprofit and faith-based institutions in the application process. rabbi cytron-walker spoke eloquently about the impact on small congregations, that can be done by allowing them to use some of the additional funding if allocated, for this purpose. >> thank you, and as a follow-up , what in your opinion.
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n could be doing specifically in regards to outrage. there are several that were unaware that the program existed. mr. fingerhut: fema could be doing much more to communic directly. ate we in the jewish federation system, every jewish community has a federation that is in touch, and other faiths have similar networks, and are in touch with each of their churches and centers. we are already working with fema and state authorities, but we would welcome the opportunity to work more closely also without partners at the security network. in the community to reach out
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directly to more and more communities. it is an area of public/private partnership. we are connected to other networks, and we would welcome the chance to partner with fema they have the resources to do that. >> thank you again to all of our witnesses. with that, i yelled back. >> the yanking member yields back. we recognize the gentlewoman from michigan. ms. slotkin: my question is for rabbi charlie. we talked about the recommendations you have on helping smaller communities write these grants or make them for more streamlined, of these special problems around getting smaller communities but community -- the security they
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need. i would propose that we work on a comprehensive piece of legislation that does exist in these programs which have things that are holding our smaller greenies back. tele some of the things we should be paying attention to when it comes to modifying some of the homeland security opportunities. > with regard to smaller congregations i think one of the most important things is to listen. to hear what my reality is like on a chabad morning. to talk with small churches, small mosques, small temples, throughout the diversity of what exists within our religious landscape. and to really hear just how different it is when you have a
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smaller number of people showing up, where you don't necessarily have the funds to do everything, you don't necessarily have the bandwidth, when the greatest debate within the synagogue where the community has to do with that. being served, or how to get enough volunteers to have this celebration. it's a really hard thing to have a dedicated group of volunteers focused on the security issues that may never happen, but that we all need to prepare for. understanding some of those possibilities, and being able to seek out that information i think would be incredibly valuable so that the program can be tailored to do what you wanted to do. meet the needs of smaller
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communities and congregations that want nothing more than to feel safety and security. >> thank you, we will come back to you. mr. fingerhut and mr. masters, we are focused on the search in hate crime's particularly anti-semitic incidents. we have seen the surge in conspiracy theories and seated prejudice. we have the national bulletin that dhs just put out, can you speak to the ways in which anti-semitism and extremist conspiracy ideologies are playing out in increasing threats to the jewish community? mr. fingerhut: i will suggest that mr. masters starts. mr. masters: thank you for the
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question, chairwoman. what we continue to see is the proliferation of what we call salad bar terrorism, where hate, conspiracy theories, online tropes and misinformation are metastasizing in people, and having residents with them. -- residents -- resonance with them. this is why we are referring individuals to law enforcement partnerships every single day. i want to highlight a partnership with the, and the strong proactive stance they take under director wray. but it is creating a hodgepodge where somebody can find anything that appeals to them, we are in
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the most complex environment, and it makes it very difficult to pinpoint one aspect or one thing. we saw that in the offender in colleyville, where he believed that by going to the jewish community there was innate power to allow him to secure the freedom of a convicted terrorist. we see this quite commonly with other people whether they are white supremacists or neo-nazis, it doesn't matter the ideology coming through the door. it would not have mattered, with anti-semitism it is well over 3000 years old. we are talking about the security of people looking to
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worship and pray, the ideology is relevant, we need to measure the door is locked. if i can go back to your former question, very briefly on a key thing we see with the nsgp that can help smaller congregations specifically is ensuring that state administrative agencies deal with this equitably. if i look at the state of texas, a notice of funding from dhs was released on 25 february, the state of texas announced a program on 14 january. a full six weeks before dhs had released the updated funding opportunity, and the state of texas close the funding opportunity less than four weeks later. people only had four weeks to complete the application, that means particularly smaller and
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underserved less funded institutions, it creates a bigger burden and is disparately impactful. that is something i think we can address right away that would help the security and help our card missions. best congregations. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas, mr. pflueger. >> iq, chairwoman. i appreciate the opportunity to talk about this. i think it is important not just for this issue, but for some many other issues that we see it comes down to information sharing at the local, state and federal level. regardless of the issues we are facing, i think that is the key to making sure we can identify the tech and prevent bad things from happening. when it comes of the secured community network, but may just phone in and give you a, where
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is it working, and more importantly, what can we do better, and what needs to be done better? mr. masters: as my colleague pointed out, we have taken a 9/11 approach to this. where we see things working very well, we take 11,000 reports into our jsoc every year. we have incredible connectivity with federal law enforcement, and many date and a local law enforcement agencies around the country. we need to encourage that intelligence and information sharing. we need to be able to end by -- identify one individuals are on these platforms and refer them effectively to law enforcement as congressman fingerhut mentioned, we have roughly 50 professional security programs
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where we have former members of law enforcement working on behalf of the committee, we see a 70% increase in instant reporting. they are able to coordinate with law enforcement and the community. what we are working to do as a community, is to enhance that security shield over the whole community so that we have. on the law enforcement side, we need to make sure that our centers are communicating effectively with state and local law enforcement, and reporting to the national threat operations center at the fbi and the dhs. that actors are moving faster than the intel, and we need to close that cycle. mr. pflueger: are there areas
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throughout the united states where you are saying a lack of support at the local level when there is information, where we could be taking action and identifying threats. mr. masters: we have built phenomenal relationships with law enforcement. you need to make friends before you need them in this business. i think we have done well on that. one thing i think that is critical that we enhanced is the hate crime reporting. as chairwoman slotkin mentioned, one we have the number of hate crimes that we have in this country, we know that is not a reality.
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the vast majority of law enforcement agencies report zero hate crimes. i will tell you from working in the communities, that is just not a reality, and it needs to be corrected. >> prosecutorial action to hold the laws that are the law of the land is the standard. hate crimes are unacceptable in any form or fashion. this hearing clearly identifies that, and clearly brings this issue up. we must uphold the law, and it is not ok to pick and choose which ones to follow.
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so i very much appreciate this hearing, with that i yelled back. >> i will now alternate between majority and minority, and the two subcommittees. the chair recognizes the gentlewoman from texas for five minutes. miss jackson-lee are you unmuted? fed chair now recognizes the gentlewoman from iowa.
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fed chair will now recognize the gentleman from new jersey. >> good evening, and thank you for holding this very timely hearing. this has been an issue that concerns me a great deal. i have spent years on this committee, and chairman thompson has done a tremendous job in the effort to secure funding around these grant programs. i was honored to travel with him to pittsburgh after the tree of life incident and speak to the rabbi and survivors of that
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horrible day. in my district in jersey city several people were killed. it is a horrible situation around anti-semitism that we must curtail, i commend you for keeping it on the forefront. this is for anyone that wants to answer. there is -- how has social media ban used to target your communities?
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>> i'll start, i think mr. masters would have detailed knowledge of the situation. we are deeply aware that what is happening online is connecting potential attackers in any place to the information and inci tement and a radicalization coming from all over the world. that makes every community a place of risk. and every faith-based institution a potential target, purpose -- precisely because of the issue that you're are raising. there is no place that is in into this danger, precisely because of threats online.
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you and other members have raised this, but growing part of anti-semitism online, and the ride -- wide range of issues being conflated together under anti-semitism is the reason why we need to be protecting every jewish institution and community. our partnership is working to build out the professional security system in every single jewish community, and that will enable us to work more closely with fema on the nonprofit security grants program, if they are given sufficient resources both for the grant and the administration of the program. we simply must recognize the point you have raised is the telling point in why every single community could be a victim. lastly, and mr. masters can choose to answer this because he is an expert on what is happening online, we also need
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to enable fema to use these grants in the broadest range of possible topics, the broadest possible definition of terrorism. currently the definition is relatively narrow. we strongly encourage the committee to consider including additional legislative language that would enable fema to recognize that these threads are coming from every possible subject matter and ideology available. >> thank you, if you go back to the iranian revolution in the 70's and 80's, and the use of audiotapes to build support for the islamist movement. and that everything about al qaeda publishing statements from bin laden, to transmissio --
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the transition to videotapes, and then the really slick video programming, the advertising and and so on. now they are able to get on social media. frankly, not enough was done quickly or aggressively enough to deplatform these individuals. we've seen it with white supremacism, similar issues with removing them of the platforms, and once you take them off they move to harder to get two spaces. so it becomes a really perplexing problem. we are seeing the transition now to gaming spaces and platforms, and gaming adjacent platforms where people are playing videos of hamas operatives blowing up a
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congregation, that's the videogame, or going in to pretend to kill nursey school age children. the reality is these bad actors are moving quickly, which means we need to look at a solution which engages the private sector and is honest. these are not government spaces, this is not a free speech argument, these are private companies making money and we need to ensure that the way they make money does not justify people being victimized, or harassed. >> we will continue the efforts here on this committee to showing leadership that we need to curtail this type of activity. with that, i yield back. >> the gentleness time is
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expired. the chair now recognizes the gentleman from louisiana. >> i think the ranking members for holding this hearing today, ensuring that our homeland is secure and our jewish brothers and sisters are safe is vital to our nation's success and foreign relations. the concern being discussed here today will no doubt wire -- require more thoughtful and deliberate discussions, the nonprofit security grant program is a great example providing both resources and training in case of a physicals or impending threat. as a former law enforcement officer, i am very familiar with the fact that every second counts. shifting to the attack in colleyville, it should not have happened in the first place.
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despite an extensive record of criminal behavior and radical history, the suspect was permitted to travel freely within our homeland. as a foundational principle and biblically, scripture says being nation that stands against israel stands against itself. may i say that very simple truth must permeate the security policies and our determination to maintain law and order within our nation. we are a nation of immigrants, yes, legal immigrants, and first a nation of law and order. we must confirm that those who come here on not intending harm to our nation. without sovereignty and secure legal entry processes, our
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communities are at risk and the recent attacks prove that. historically, it's just a fact, we have to get our heads wrapped around that. i am calling to both sides of the aisle to find solutions and so our friends, communities, churches, synagogues and places of worship can peaceably gather. i'd like to ask our rabbis so our friends and communities, our churches and synagogues and places of worship can peaceably gather. i'd like to ask our rabbis, thank you for your testimony and for spending time with us today. your service, your faith, dedication to communities and congregation is noble.
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any act of aggression or violence toward israel and its citizens must be handled swiftly. as leaders of your respected communities ensuring that your place of worship is secure must be a top priority and i would ask you to clarify your relationship with local law enforcement. historically the jewish community works closely with local law enforcement and the thin blue line stand solid with law enforcement professional, compassionate, strong and courageous law enforcement across the country. would you agree that that is your position? >> if i may, hours literally texting and emailing with the
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chief of colleyville police during those horrible, horrible hours. so that the relationship between our community and the colleyville police department has been very, very important, and it is also important to note that the deadliest shooting at a house of worship wasn't an overt sense of hatred against jews or anyone else, it was in sutherland springs in texas, which was so horrible, and that happened in our state. in it was something that also another one of those incidents that just touched all of us so deeply, and that it really does take all of us, i guess that's what i want to say, it really takes all of us on all sides of the aisle to come with that sense of security and, that since that our status quo is not ok. that we can't do this as a
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society where this kind of violence is happening in our religious communities, in our schools, and our religious institutions and nonprofits. we need that sense of security. we need these grants. we need these programs, and we also have to do more to work together to change that overall reality, because what we are going through right now, i don't believe it is sustainable, but i appreciate your work. >> rabbi, i cannot imagine that it could've been better stated. thank you for your kindness. madam chair, i believe my time has expired. >> the chair now recognizes the gentlewoman from texas, ms. jackson lee, for five minutes. >> thank you for this crucial
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hearing and is well to the ranking member as well. >> let me take note of mr. masters last comments when he said the jewish way of life in the united states of america is under attack. sadly, this hearing further confirms not only that the rising increase of anti-semitic -- imagism against the rise of racism and racial attitudes, which includes in particular the african-american community. let me start with rabbi walker. our prayers were with you but
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prayers needed action. i think my outrages that your congregation, place of peace, place of worship, something that the constitution gives us a sense of comfort, the number one provision, the bill of rights, the right of freedom of religion, and you were violated. can you tell me, rabbi, first of all, i hope those who were held -- i hope god is encouraging them in the comfort of this nation. i hope they are knowing that america cares and we in the united states congress cared. can you tell me the one thing that you thought help to bring you to safety, did you find in the perpetrator confusion or pointed focus? >> i would say first of all, thank you for those kind words. our congregation has been
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overwhelmed, we've been working through it and we really appreciate the incredible work within and outside of our nation and our local community. the perpetrator, he was very focused on one thing. he was very focused on this idea that jews control the world, that the chief rabbi of america, as far as he was concerned, is absolutely amazing, but we don't have a chief rabbi in america.
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he thought that we could do that , and he could get this person released. that was his singular focus. that was his singular understanding, that idea that jews control the world, that jews control the media, government, that they control everything. that was reality for him. but he deeply, in everything he shared, he believed that 100%. that america would care more about jews than anybody else. and there was no confusion about that, that was consistent every step of the way. >> the height of anti-semitism, thank you so much, and our prayers continue to be with you. let me read into the record the language of this lenten, continue calls for violence directed at u.s. critical infrastructure, soft targets and mass gatherings.
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faith-based institutions such as churches, synagogues, mosques, institutions of higher education , this language, these acts generate potential violence. we know that mr. greenblatt said in his last testimony before us, extremist white supremacist ideology is more than a collection of prejudices. it is a complete worldview. can i hear from mr. singleton -- excuse me, mr. masters and mr. fingerhut if i could, could you both respond to the intensity of the action in words turning into violence and how these grants are so crucial at this time. mr. fingerhut and then mr. masters. thank you. >> thank you congresswoman jackson lee. there's no question that the reason why it is necessary for
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us as a jewish community, that every single institution in the jewish community is protected both through physical protection and the professional security network that were building in each community is because of this rise of anti-semitic speech and incidents. they don't all obviously manifest in violence, but they create the environment in which the individual such as those who've carried out these attacks are motivated to act so there is a direct correlation between the rising anti-semitism that our colleague jonathan greenblatt spoke to this congress about and while there is a full throated effort to counter that anti-semitism, we also simultaneously have to protect and defend every jewish institution. i note that after 9/11, america both went on the offense against
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terrorism around the world, but also protected and built out the homeland security system that we are so familiar with today. and that's where we are in the jewish community today, we have to both counter anti-semitism wherever it is, but we must recognize that we will nevertheless result in these violent attacks and we will protect every community. we are in the middle of a major campaign to extend our professional security initiatives in partnership with -- out to every single jewish community organized through its federation and each place also wish to partner in-depth with local law enforcement, as previously was discussed, and also of course with this important fema grant program. >> the chair now recognizes the gentlewoman from iowa, ms. miller meeks, for five minutes. >> thank you.
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certainly our hearts, our sympathies are with all of those in colleyville for this horrendous attack. i went to school there and know the area very well. mr. masters, according to a report conducted by the antidefamation league's central on extremism, and 2020 there were 114 reported instances of zoombombing directed at u.s. institutions such as synagogues, jewish community centers, and jewish schools. have you heard from your members about an increase in this or other types of cyber harassment? click certainly, and thank you for the question. particularly at the beginning of the pandemic as our community moved online in many respects, zoom in facebook live, we saw a dramatic increase in zoombombing's, in particular we worked with collaborative with the adl as well as other providers to address safety and
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security settings. all told, we held national webinars to educate thousands of members in our community on how to implement those security settings to avoid the zoombombing. we also have seen during the pandemic more broadly 40% increase reported into our intelligence center, our operations command center of cyber intrusions and activity we work very closely as i've mentioned with the fbi and dhs. we anticipate that this is going to increase. i would note that particularly we see international events that affect the state of israel and the jewish community throughout the world, we see an uptick in cyber activity, what we believe to be both from state and nonstate actors. some affiliated with foreign terrorist organizations, others operating on their own, potentially. this is very significant. what i would drive to with the point, and this goes to the physical security as well, and
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congresswoman sheila jackson lee's question, it's not just about the security, it's about the feeling of insecurity that is created in the community. whether it is on zoom or whether it's the question that the rabbi identified as someone feeling uncomfortable, if we get to a place in our country in this community where people aren't comfortable walking to synagogues, sending their kids to school, or participating in a zoom, we will do far more damage to ourselves as a faith is community, as a country, than any single or group of terrorists could do. that is why do so essential that we have these funds to support the physical security and cybersecurity. thank you for your support making that happen. >> this is for any of the witnesses or either rabbi as well. congregation beth israel in
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colorado, texas, has regularly livestreamed it service especially since the start of covid to ensure that its entire community would still be able to participate in this practice. it took a dark turn when the terrace took four people hostage and when it allowed an unprecedented number of people to watch the attack in real time, and we know given the state of culture now, the state of the internet and social media, and i mean all of us have seen some of the horrific videos on the internet. are you all concerned that having this livestreamed inadvertently that would yield to copycat attacks as a result of this extremely public nature of the colleyville attack? clicks go ahead, please. >> from a security perspective, the answer is yes. we saw this with the christchurch new zealand attacker.
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we saw it with the attacker and power a who attempted to livestream, and the short answer is yes, we were very concerned about this and the implication for copycats and we need to work to address it. the insecurity to practice your faith. >> first of all, i want to say that i appreciate the hyphenated last name. thank you for the opportunity. i mean it's a very strange thing, because not only was this very, very public for us, we also have so much interest in repeated interest on the facebook platform that we want to be open and honest, and yet we are not actually -- we are no longer mentioning the names of everyone who is sick that we are praying for within the congregation. we are trying to be conscious of
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a sense of privacy in a way that we've never had to think about in our world today. so it remains an ongoing issue for us in our community. and yet we want to be open, we want to be accessible online. we want people to be able to pray with us and connect with us. and yet there's a whole host of new and not necessarily appreciated challenges that has come with this as well. and yet we remain committed to figuring out solutions. thank you for the question. >> i yield back my time, chairman. >> the chair now recognizes the gentleman from texas, mr. green, for five minutes. >> thank you very much, madam chair, and the ranking member as well. to my friends who've assembled as witnesses, i thank you for your appearance today.
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it means a lot. going to address my question to my friend, mr. fingerhut. first, a bit of a preamble, if you will. i and a very dear friend encountered bigotry many years ago. i was president of the naacp. he was with the ajc, he was the lead person. and he and i took on this challenge. it was a challenge related to the african-american community, but having the allies in the jewish community made all the difference in the resolution. it's important for us not to silo our problems, that we should see these problems as a collective. they are our problems. they are not your problems, they are our problems. they are my problems. and we've got a duty to help each other in these times of need, and when we are not
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confronting persons who have set some ugly things, we have a duty to bond and let people know that we are friends, and that we will stand together, if ever you make a statement or if ever you do something that's inappropriate, you know that you can count on us. we have to count on each other. now having given that as my foundation, i believe that we have to treat all bigots the same. we cannot make a distinction between one bigot and another. you can't conclude that if one bigot is beneficial -- i have a term that i use now, it's called the beneficial bigot. a beneficial bigot has to be treated the same way you treat another big. if you make exceptions for beneficial bigots, those exceptions come back to haunt us. so i'm hopeful that we will, as we move forward together, and we must do it together, that when we encounter these circumstances, we will take them
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on and we will do it together, understanding that there can be no such thing as a beneficial bigot. so to my friend mr. fingerhut, i appreciate you being here, and beneficial bigotry is the topic. how do you respond to my comment that we have to treat all bigots the same? you can't give a beneficial bigot a license to do what you wouldn't give another bigot the opportunity to do. >> represented of green, it's indeed a pleasure to speak with you again and you've been such a champion on these issues. of course i agree with your comment entirely that we must treat all bigotry the same. i want to emphasize that as we grow the professional security systems, initiatives that we are building across entire judicial -- jewish community in each of our 140 six jewish federations,
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that one of the key roles of those professional community security directors who of course are working and trained by them is to build relations with not only local law enforcement, but also with other community representatives of other churches and mosques and other faiths, and then our federations work in partnership with the leaders of other faiths and naacp and muslim groups and others so that we are sharing information, we are working together in a unified way, and supporting each other as we build out these necessary steps. both rabbis spoke beautifully, and i know they, in addition to caring for their congregations and doing all the pastoral responsibilities they have, they are also involved in interfaith
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activities and broadening their work across the community, but they can't do this alone. we have to offer them the sophistication and the professional help that we can through the jewish federation system and in partnership with the government, local law enforcement, and of course fema in this case on the nonprofit security grant. so we take your comments seriously and we know we are all in this together. we lock arms, and of course we have had to, as you and i have discussed, the jewish communities have to be very aggressive in building out the security programs because we have been a significant disproportionate target of these violent attacks, but we know that we are not alone and we are eager to do it in full concert with all faith communities and in all communities that we can reach. >> madam chair, i thank you for the time. let me just close with this. those who tolerate bigotry
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perpetuate it, and we cannot tolerate it. and again, i thank you, madam chair. >> the gentleman's time has expired. i recognize mr. meyer from michigan. beck's thank you madam chair and to the subcommittee for holding this here today and to all of our guests who are joining to share their expertise and their experience and i just have to follow on what many of my other colleagues have mentioned. rabbi walker, thank you for the example that you set, for just the bravery that you showed. i know in an era where we are all watching things occur and scrolling our twitter feeds to find updates, know our hearts sank when we saw the news and then leapt at the conclusion, and thanks again to you for your calmness under pressure. it was a situation you should have never been in, but one that
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you handled and your fellow victims handled in a way that set a powerful example. rabbi walker, i just want to kind of build on some of the other questions here. you mentioned that you participated in about a half dozen other security workshops that have been offered by the fbi, the adl, colleyville police and the secure communities networks with mr. masters. do you think your experience is representative of other faith leaders? have you had that degree of involvement with the resources that are available? do you feel that there's widespread and sufficient awareness of the tools and resources available? >> thank you so much, represented of. i would say yes and no. that security summit that i attended with the fbi, there was
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a huge auditorium and there were faith leaders from across every spectrum and background. when we hosted in our community, i want to say twice, with the police department and again with the fbi. i could be remembering those differently, but in our congregation, we invited members of our interfaith community, religious leaders, lay leaders, to participate. our colleyville police department did a session on the development of a security action plan with faith leaders from across the community. and it just depends on who shows up. a community has to feel the need and the desire and unfortunately, a lot more people feel that as it hits closer to home. let's be realistic about this.
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what happened to us is the most recent horrible thing, but things have been happening for years, and it's a matter of windows does that wake-up call happen, that we need to be prepared, and so that education and also that sense that being prepared doesn't mean you expect it to happen. that's a really, really important point. just like cpr. just like fire drills, as was mentioned before. tornado drills, you're not expecting to get hit by a tornado. not expecting a fire to happen in the building. there needs to be a sense of awareness and preparation, and unfortunately, in far too many schools, so many public schools and private schools, they are doing lockdown drills. not because they expect it to happen, but it just makes sense to have that preparation. so it doesn't matter the
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institution, from jewish to muslim, baha'i, atheist, all of us, everyone from every background, unfortunately, we need that sense of preparation. >> and certainly mentioning that recency. we are holding this hearing in the wake of what happened in colleyville. you know it is fresh of mind and it's not at all surprising to see an increased focus on connecting our faith community with the resources that are available, but also that obligation and necessity of once more time passes to continue that engagement, to continue pushing those resources out so that we don't let the time that passes distract us from the underlying mission. so again, rabbi, i really appreciate you joining us here today. i appreciate you sharing those comments. thank you for the leadership that you showed.
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madam chair, i yield back. >> chair now recognizes the gentleman from rhode island for five minutes. >> i want to thank our witnesses for their testimony today. i apologize i wasn't able to stay for the entire hearing. i was at another hearing with the armed services committee, but i did want to get back to thank our witnesses and ask a couple of questions. so you spoken your testimony about the understandable burdens at small congregations like yours face in navigating the paperwork requirements of nonprofit security grant program, and are there other challenges with in sgp which are unique to small congregations that you have experienced or have heard of others experiencing? >> i don't know all of the
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specifics, but i do know that if it were not for one volunteer who basically made it almost his full-time job for weeks at a time to try to get this together. i mean so many hours in the back room, going through the grant, making sure it was accurate, we wouldn't have received the grant. i can imagine what it was like, i mean for my colleague in florida. i just know that it's really challenging, and in terms of that general trend, since i wasn't the one applying for it, but i think that mr. masters might be able to speak to that in a more broader sense, a more global sense. but i can tell you that it's really, really hard for smaller congregations to do it. >> thank you.
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i agree as well, by the way. i agree to that same idea. it is a very extensive project to do. we actually enlisted a chabad security in florida to help us with it and they've told us that those who received or awarded the grant of 20, most of us -- most of those that they been helping have not received the fine jet because between fema and the florida department of emergency management, there's just a lot of back-and-forth, and many have just not received it because the process has been going very slow. >> thank you for that. here's a question for all of our witnesses. in cases where nonprofit organizations are needing to make sustained investments in their security, have they run into challenges in securing multiple grants over time from
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the nonprofit security grant program, and if so, is it clear why some applications from a certain organization were excepted and others were not? >> i'll attempt to first answer that question, for one, there is an ability to receive multiple grants over the years. there is a waiting system that has a preference for first-time applicants, so we have seen over the years, from 2006 as my colleague mentioned when the grant program was first created, and the pool has expanded as more money has become available and more people have applied, and that's a good thing. that has made it somewhat more competitive, obviously. there is a possibility for institutions to get multiyear grants as more institutions have
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applied and certainly it has expanded to those communities that traditionally could not apply or nonurban -- non-urban area communities that we see more applications and more first-time individuals getting funded. as i mentioned earlier, there is disparity across the state administrative agencies that can make things complicated. the authorized equipment list from which you can purchase items is not really designed for faith-based institutions or laypeople to take advantage of. it's the same authorized equipment list if i was running a major gas refinery and if i was trying to find used equipment to fund from their that i would be using and i think there are ways to make the process easier for those first-time applicants, as congressman fingerhut mentioned, with respect to increase support for first-time applicants. that's frankly what we are doing
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a lot of in the jewish community through the joint efforts of jf in a and scn to make more grant writers available. there is a lot more work to do and anything we can -- it can be done from your side or the famous side to increase their ability to support would be helpful. >> the gentleman's time has expired. chair now recognizes the gentlewoman from new jersey, ms. watson coleman, for five minutes. >> thank you, madame chairwoman, for bringing us together today. thank you to each and every one of our witnesses. the information has been so helpful. rabbi charlie, it is so good to be able to have this conversation with you. god bless you. my blessings to your whole congregation and to those who were there on that day. i don't have a question. let me just say this. i heard you. i heard about the difficulty in
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the application process. i heard about the unpredictability and continuity of the application process. and i heard that we need additional resources to be applied. and i also heard loud and clear that we recognize that we are all in this together, black, jewish, muslim, atheist, whatever. we aren't always considered the other noun we must show this country that we are together in this message. we are together in our unity, and we will stand together for the democracy in this country. so i thank you for the opportunity to hear what you had to say today and madame chairwoman, thank you so much. and thank you for bringing us together and giving me this opportunity. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the
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gentleman from new jersey for five minutes. >> thank you so much, madame chairwoman and thank you to all of our witnesses or your presentations. i am both delighted that we are holding this hearing and incredibly sad that we have to hold this hearing. so the nonprofit security grant program is incredibly important in my home state of new jersey. we've had our share arguably more than our share of anti-semitic incidents and other attacks on people based on their faith and race in recent years. i think we are number two in the country in terms of anti-semitic attacks. since 20/20, i've held a number of workshops in my district for faith leaders interested in the grant program and we've helped
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them take advantage of these resources, but i also totally agree we do not have enough resources, and the numbers bear that out. fully 45% of applications right now are rejected by fema and grant applicants often are not informed. why they are rejected, that something we have to fix, and obviously we need more resources. and for that reason i have been a strong supporter ever since i've been elected of increasing funding for this program, and i will continue to do so. and at the same time, every single time i sign a letter to increase funding, every time i cosponsor a bill to increase funding, i feel a sense of defeat, because as i'm sure all of our witnesses would agree, even though we have to harden our places of worship, the solution to this problem is not at the gate of our places of worship. if we wait until the attacker is at the gate, we've already in a
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sense failed. so that's really what i want to ask our witnesses about. why, in your view, is this happening? perhaps mr. fingerhut, you mentioned that we are living through the most intense period of attacks on the american jewish community in the history of this country. why from your standpoint is this happening right now? >> thank you for the question. i know that these committees held a hearing just recently on the rise in anti-semitism and the relationship to all the various political and radical movements that are happening across the spectrum, around the world. in a previous discussion in this hearing, the impact of social media, the impact of the
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internet to be able to bring these things into every community, into anybody's home, anybody wants to reach this hatred, the key for us is that we just know that it's not going to in, the wave is still rising and so we have to be prepared. if i might just take the moment of your question, and there have been so many excellent comments about the challenges the current nonprofit security grant program faces. there are things at this committee can do, even in legislative language associated with appropriations that can help attract and address them, we need to give fema more flexibility and authority quickly and support, waive the paperwork requirement. i mentioned a number of these things in my written testimony that has been submitted for the record. i wish to say i wish i had a
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better answer for you on why, but i know that it's real, it is growing, it's not going to end soon, so we have to give our partners in government all the resources and flexibility needed to act now. >> yes, and we should. on social media, let me put it this way to you. imagine there were a company in america that tracked the online behavior of every single person in this country and the world. and every time they found somebody expressing views along the lines of jews control the world, or anything like that, a representative of the company picked up the phone and call the person to say hey, i can't help but notice, you've expressed some really interesting views. we like to introduce you to 10 other people who share your views. we like to help you get together with those people and help you explore your interest in combating those horrible jewish
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people who are trying to control the world. would you think that would be a bad thing? that's what social media companies do. so this is something we are looking very hard at. it's not a guy picking up the phone and making a call, it is an internet system -- it's an automated algorithmic system that functions precisely that way. >> if i might for my dad, it's one of the reasons why all of our community security programs through each of our federations will be connected, it will be broadcast out to all the security directors in every community because we know that they're doing exactly what you said, they're introducing the
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radicals to more people that it will quickly spread copycats, similarly they will show up online and through our partnership, we're able now to get that information out to every community. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from new jersey for five minutes. >> thank you for this timely hearing. the threats against the jewish community arising at an alarming rate, as we know, just this week the national terrorism advisory system bolton warned of the role of disinformation is playing and motivating domestic extremists with the stress on the interest in targeting religious and racial minorities. there even report stating an uptick in caused by extremist replicate what occurred at congregation beth israel in colleyville. i want to take a moment to
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highlight the courage as my colleagues have of rabbi walker, a horrific hostage situation in colleyville. how can dhs and other agencies better support your community and others like it? i know you've answered some of this and if there's anything you think we have not addressed, i'd be grateful. >> i would say one thing that hasn't been mentioned to the extent that maybe it needs to is the idea -- i mean has been stated that we need those relationships before something bad happens. we need the relationships on the national, state, and local level with regard to government. we need those relationships within our interreligious communities on a local level. we need to know one another. we don't have to be experts in one another's religions, but we do need to know each other and see each other and see the humanity within, whether we are talking about the more
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progressive religions, the more conservative religions, everybody in between, those without any religion. we need that sense of relationship, and to encourage that relationship, and to make those possible. in addition to all of this, the many possibilities that this committee can do, along with, as has also been mentioned, that idea of acknowledging the hatred that exists, and again, we don't have to agree with everyone. we're not going to agree with everyone, but when we can see the humanity of each other before we choose how to disagree, to know that we are all human. we are not enemies. garlands of whatever political side of the aisle, regardless of our religious faith, we need to all be on the same team. and when we can be on the same
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team and tone down that rhetoric, that's a responsibility that all of us have. religious leaders, elected officials from every part of government. when we can do that, it makes a big difference. >> to that point, you've obviously been a leader in teaching members of society about the roots and solutions to hate. i was proud like many of my colleagues to support the never again education act of 2020 expanding u.s. holocaust memorial museum education programming. are there other ways to promote a deeper understanding of the lessons from historic anti-semitism, other steps you think we should be taking that we are not? >> thank you again. with regard to holocaust education, i think that
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unfortunately, from my understanding of the research, and congressman fingerhut could probably do better than i, but my understanding is that holocaust education in this country is actually decreasing instead of increasing. and that is something that this one period of time that is so important for us from a historical perspective, unfortunately it teaches the worst experiences of what hate can do, of what dehumanization can do. it's not the only story. i just had an opportunity to visit the dallas holocaust and human rights museum, which focuses in not only on the holocaust but also human rights across the board. and that is an incredible resource to educate, and they do so in the dfw area in an incredible way. and that kind of education is
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helpful across the board to not only understand better the holocaust, but once again, to understand how we are all connected as human beings. >> when you are writing the nonprofit security grants and other measures that mr. fingerhut has spoken about to make sure were doing everything we can to make sure we have more resources, not less, which i think is so important. i yield back. >> thank you so much for your patience, and finally the chair now recognizes the gentlewoman from new york, ms. rice, for five minutes. >> thank you so much, madam chair. i just want to raise two quick issues that have already been pretty much acknowledged and talk about by some of my colleagues. very grateful for the millions of dollars that new york and specifically my district on long island gotten -- i've heard from
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jewish and interfaith organizations that present funding levels are clearly insufficient to meet the current needs. this year we had seven incredibly strong applicants for my district who were denied funding. and even though -- those that receive grants often find them insufficient to cover the needed security updates. these rejections are especially frustrating because the organizations aren't told why they've been rejected, only that they have been. so i appreciate the work that's being done, and i think mr. masters talked about in terms of help that's given to first-time applicants, but we also need to worry about the applicant who maybe is not the first time applicant, but gets denied, without any explanation. so to you, mr. masters, first of all, i think we all agree that we have to put more money into this program across the board. but how can we make it better --
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i don't know if it's an issue of transparency or maybe giving organizations that are denied their initial application a chance to make changes so that they can receive these grants. maybe you could just kind of talk a little bit about ways to fix this and give more certainty to the applicants during that process. >> i think you identified perhaps one of the biggest complaints that we hear across the entire jewish community, but also when we are asked to provide advice or counsel to our partners another face -- faith-based or nonprofit community is, lack of feedback. so you submit an application, it goes to the state administrative agency, and then it goes to fema. and when it is rejected, there's no clarity on whether it was rejected for material deficiency in the application -- did i not put a correct number, or was my
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threat section or my investment justification section off? i mean 80 -- even if we just provided if it was a material deficiency or something in the narrative, it would be a huge advantage. >> what i'd like to know is, or people being rejected just because they're making the decision that there's no money and that these other organizations are more deserving at this time than you? if that's the case, they should know that too. it sounds to me like fema makes the ultimate determination of why the rejected but does not give the reason. i mean, is there way that we can require reason to be given? >> well, every state gets a specific amount of money and every urban area does so that
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the state actually identifies through their process who's getting it from the state level until that pot of money gets to zero. so very feasibly you could have someone that has a good application but because there's not enough money that they don't get awarded. then you could have people that just have problems with their application itself and they're not getting feedback on those applications. that something that we as the federation system have work to do in looking at many of those applications that were rejected in providing feedback. >> i just really do want to point out that we believe that fema just to plea doesn't have the resources right now to do -- to get the kinds of responses that you are speaking up. we strongly urge that some portion of these increased funds be allocated both to fema and to the state authority so that they can give that necessary feedback, and i also mentioned
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but i want to repeat that they also probably need a waiver of the paperwork reduction act so they can quickly update and modernize their application forms and even some additional broader authority on language as to what the risks, the threats are that are being covered. the threats are just multiplying faster than the legislative authority language they have, has enable. i certainly am out of date as to the functioning of this committee from my time there, but certainly as much of this that needs to be done either in report language or legislative language around the appropriations even before may be some changes are made to the authorizing language. the authorizing bill would be really timely and responsive together with the funding increase. >> the gentlewoman yells back. i ask unanimous consent to enter a statement from the antidefamation league into the
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record, without objection. with that, i think the witnesses for their valuable testimony and the members for their questions. the members of the subcommittee may have additional questions for the witnesses and we asked that you respond expeditiously in writing to those questions. the chair reminds members that the committee records will remain open for 10 business days. without objection, the subcommittee stata >> live today on c-span, the house is back at 9 a.m. eastern to take up a note lock foreigners from entering the u.s. who violated internationally recognized human rights against lgbtq individuals. on c-span2, the senate returns at 10 to consider executive nominations for the u.s. international development finance corporation and assistant secretary of the army.
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