DOJ has 'zero tolerance for acts of violence against the Jewish community,' AG Barr says during Brooklyn visit

Juliet Papa
January 28, 2020 - 4:10 pm
William Barr meets with Jewish leaders in Brooklyn

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

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NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- 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 Borough Park, Brooklyn on Tuesday.

"I told them that the Department of Justice will have zero tolerance for acts of violence against the Jewish community and we're taking a series of steps to make sure that these matters are reported to the department and give us an opportunity to act upon them," Barr told 1010 WINS' Julia Papa after the meeting.

He also said that the meeting was important "to show very clearly and empathically that the Department of Justice puts the highest priority on protecting the Jewish community from these acts and from discriminatory acts as well."

New York City saw a string of anti-Semitic attacks during the Hanukkah holiday.

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.

Jewish communities in the New York City metro area have been on edge after a shooting rampage at a northern New Jersey market in December that killed six and an attack at a Hanukkah celebration in Monsey that left five people stabbed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.