Home>Articles>OPINION: In the Face of Rising Antisemitism, Rep. Mark Amodei Needs To Step Up

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OPINION: In the Face of Rising Antisemitism, Rep. Mark Amodei Needs To Step Up

American Jews are experiencing the largest explosion in antisemitism since the Anti-Defamation League started reporting incidents in the 1970s

By Nathan Diament, June 10, 2024 1:29 pm

American Jews are experiencing the largest explosion in antisemitism since the Anti-Defamation League started reporting incidents in the 1970s. Now is the time to surge resources to secure Jewish schools, houses of worship, and non-profit institutions. It is precisely the wrong time to cut security funding for vulnerable communities.

And yet, that is exactly what some in Congress have proposed.

The federally funded Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) helps synagogues, religious schools, and nonprofits of other faith communities enhance security to protect against terrorist attacks. The 19-year-old program has helped thousands of vulnerable communities and saved countless lives. Over the years, Congress has steadily increased funding for the program as threats have grown.

But just this week, with antisemitism at a frightening peak, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security proposed $305 million for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program in 2025 — the same amount provided for the program in 2023. That is a dangerous mistake that will have real-world consequences for many Jewish communities.

Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, killing more than 1,200 Israeli citizens, antisemitism in America rose 360 percent year over year. From terrorizing Jewish students on college campuses to antisemitic vandalism to physical assaults against Jews, antisemitism is flourishing in large and small communities alike.

Nevada is not immune. According to a report by the American Jewish Committee, antisemitic incidents increased dramatically after Oct. 7. Two high-profile incidents included a man who left antisemitic and threatening voicemails at Sen. Jacky Rosen’s (D-Nev.) office and an autistic Jewish teenager who had a swastika carved into his back.

When Congress made $305 million available for NSGP security grants in 2023, so many applications were filed that the total amount was $679 million. So, back then, before the fallout from the Oct. 7 attacks only half the applications were able to be filled. With more threats now, the demand and need for these lifesaving grants will only be higher.

Nevada has a unique role to play in this mission. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev) is the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s Homeland Security subcommittee, which determines funding levels for the NSGP. In 2022, Mr. Amodei , voted against a bill to increase funding for the program. More recently, Amodei cosponsored a resolution calling for a commission to study antisemitism. That’s a nice sentiment,  but we don’t need more resolutions or commissions to tell us that antisemitism has reached dangerous levels. We need Congress to act.

Rep. Amodei has a unique opportunity to work with a bipartisan coalition of House and Senate members who are pushing for as much as $500 million for the program in 2025. These members have the right idea. This is the most concrete way to tackle antisemitism.

These threats are not theoretical. Five years ago, a gunman opened fire on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh during Sabbath services, killing 11 Jews. In 2019 a rabbi was stabbed and later succumbed to his wounds at a Chanukah gathering in Monsey, and that same year, three people were killed in a shooting at a kosher supermarket in New Jersey.

After every tragedy, our mourning communities are met with promises of “never again” and “never forget.” These declarations of solidarity are appreciated. But we can do better. By fully funding the NSGP, we can prevent these tragedies from happening in the first place. We can make “never again” a reality by making sure schools and synagogues can afford security guards, fences, and surveillance equipment to prevent terrorist attacks.

All Americans are safer and better off when we work together to stomp out hate and prevent threatened communities. It’s time for Congress to put politics aside and take the necessary action to fund life-saving security programs that protect communities from threats and provide a welcoming society for all faiths.

Editor’s note: The Globe has contacted Rep. Mark Amodei for comment. We will update the article when received. 

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