US attorney general says there will be ‘zero tolerance’ on anti-Semitism

Michael Balsamo
Associated Press

New York – Attorney General William Barr ordered federal prosecutors across the U.S. to step up their efforts to combat anti-Semitic hate crimes as he met with Jewish leaders in Brooklyn, New York, on Tuesday.

Barr said he has been “extremely distressed by the upsurge in violence” in Jewish communities, including in New York City, which saw a string of anti-Semitic attacks during the Hanukkah holiday.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr announces Operation Relentless Pursuit, a new federal initiative to reduce violent crime in Detroit and six other cities, Wednesday in Detroit.

The attorney general said the Trump administration would have “zero tolerance for this kind of violence.”

Barr’s visit came a day after the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland, where survivors warned of rising anti-Semitism worldwide. It also came on the same day as President Donald Trump unveiled a Middle East peace plan that called for the creation of a State of Palestine with its capital in east Jerusalem while recognizing Israeli sovereignty over major settlement blocs in the West Bank – something the Palestinians are unlikely to accept.

Barr directed U.S. attorneys’ offices to ensure they have a specific point of contact to handle outreach to the Jewish community and someone responsible for reporting hate crimes. He said he was also working with FBI Director Christopher Wray to create a national plan to combat anti-Semitic violence, and he announced federal charges in Brooklyn against a woman who allegedly had slapped three Jewish women.

Allen Fagin, executive vice president at the Orthodox Union, said Barr was met with a resoundingly grateful response from the local Jewish community representatives who attended.

“Not only a recognition of the problem and a resolve to bring the resources of the federal government to bear, but the very fact that he came to Brooklyn to do that and brought with him senior representatives of local law enforcement, I think conveyed a very powerful message,” said Fagin.

“I cannot tell you how much it means to us when you say our federal government will have zero tolerance towards hate,” Rabbi David Niederman, who said three of his relatives were killed by Nazis during the Holocaust, told the attorney general.