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Walker Opening Statement To Counter Anti-Semitic Terrorism Hearing

January 15, 2020

Walker Opening Statement To Counter Anti-Semitic Terrorism Hearing

WASHINGTON  Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), Intelligence and Counterterrorism subcommittee ranking member, today delivered the following opening statement at a subcommittee hearing entitled, “Confronting the Rise in Anti-Semitic Domestic Terrorism.”

I want to thank Chairman Rose for scheduling this important hearing and for last week’s Subcommittee roundtable with nonprofit groups, which provided important background information for today’s hearing. 

Freedom of religion means the freedom of belief and the freedom of expression of those beliefs.  This cornerstone Constitutional freedom is violated when people cannot gather safely in places of worship, community centers, or even their own homes.  It is also violated if they are threatened at work, on a college campus, or during community activities.

In the past fourteen months since a white supremacist committed the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, there have been multiple deadly attacks against Jews in the U.S., including in San Diego, Jersey City, and Rockland County, New York. 

In fact, no community is immune to the threat of anti-Semitism, and that unfortunately includes areas I represent.  Last year, weeks before Rosh Hashanah, anti-Semitic propaganda was found at Temple Emanuel in Winston-Salem and later, a car was damaged by gunfire outside the Chabad Jewish Student Center at Elon University as services marking the end of Yom Kippur were taking place.  Unfortunately, anti-Semitic attacks in the U.S. have been rising and the trends are similar across Europe. 

Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States demonstrate a variety of ideological motivations.  The attacker at the Tree of Life synagogue was motivated by white nationalist beliefs, the Jersey City attackers were connected to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, and no clear ideological motivation has been identified for several of the attacks and slurs against Jews in New York City during December 2019.  An attack on any faith is an attack on the faithful.  Violent attacks and hate crimes must be explicitly and soundly condemned. 

There is no one solution to combat faith-based attacks but there is more that can be done by the government, the private sector, and the faith-based community.  We have a very distinguished panel of witnesses here today who will offer a number of recommendations, including additional nonprofit security grant funding, a greater role for fusion centers, more information sharing, and an end to the anti-Semitic boycott, divestiment, and sanctions, or BDS, movement. I look forward to hearing more about these and other recommendations from all of the witnesses. 

The broad range of ideologically based hatred and our society’s continued obsession with violence has left too many scars across our country.  I remain fully committed to an open, bipartisan discussion about domestic terrorism, hateful ideologies, and meaningful recommendations for addressing these threats to our homeland. We must continue to work in a bipartisan fashion to help solve the complex problems associated with not only anti-Semitism but the proliferation of hate and intolerance.

I want to thank the witnesses for appearing here today and I yield back the balance of my time.