Secretary Mayorkas Remarks: Orthodox Union Convening, New York City
December 12, 2022
Good morning and thank you.
As a child, I did not have regular sleepovers with friends, and I didn’t go to sleep-away camps like many of my friends did. The horror of the Holocaust that my mother lived through – that most of her family did not survive – defined my mother’s fear of her young children being away from home, and her frame of mind that hatred of Jews can mean violence even in what one thinks are the safest of places.
The FBI reports that 63 percent of religious hate crimes in our country are motivated by antisemitism. According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were 2,717 incidents of antisemitism across the United States in 2021, a 34 percent increase over the prior year. It was the highest number on record since the ADL began tracking acts of antisemitism more than forty years ago.
It is very important that we are gathered here today to discuss the rise in antisemitism in our country and what we can and what we must do to combat it.
Thank you, Nathan, for your very kind introduction and for your leadership. I’m grateful to you that you invited me here today, and I’m grateful to all of you. I should note that the kippah that I am wearing today my father wore 50 years ago this past Friday, December 9th, the 50th anniversary of my bar mitzvah.
The Department of Homeland Security is proud to partner with you in the fight against violent acts of hate. The fight against such violence cannot be fought alone; it must be fought by our community together, through a community of action. It must be defined by the core principle that when an act of hate is perpetrated against one, the attack is against us all.
Our Department, the Department of Homeland Security, is, fundamentally, a Department of partnerships. Partnerships with our fellow departments and agencies in the federal government; with state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, and law enforcement; with the private sector, non-profit organizations, academia, and think tanks; with faith communities and its leaders, including, of course, all of you; and, with the very public we serve.
To action our partnerships – our Department is action driven, we are operational – which is what the fight against antisemitic violence requires, we have built institutions and are engaged in multiples lines of effort.
Last year we created a domestic terrorism branch within our Office of Intelligence and Analysis to focus on threats like those that bring us together today.
Recently I convened a multi-denominational Faith-Based Security Advisory Council, comprised of faith leaders and other experts from across the country, to advise me and to work with me and our Department on strategies to prevent, respond to, and prove resilient to violence borne of antisemitism and other ideologies of hate. Rabbi Julie Schonfeld is one of the Advisory Council’s co-chairs and Rabbi Hauer is one of its distinguished members.
Our Department’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships also advances our collaboration with all of you and helps ensure we are executing the right strategies and doing so effectively.
Last, and certainly not least important, we created the Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships, or CP3, to improve our Department’s ability to work with communities to combat terrorism and targeted violence.
Over the past 22 months, we have issued more than 100 advisories, bulletins, and alerts to ensure that we are informing you and other communities of the threat landscape and how best to stay safe.
We have deployed 100 Protective Security Advisors from our Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to provide security assessments, advice, and training in response to the increasing threats our communities are encountering.
Of course, we work very closely with the Secure Community Network, Michael Masters and others.
This past September, we announced 20 million dollars in targeted violence and terrorism prevention grants to 43 local communities, to resource them in advancing prevention efforts in the fight against targeted violence. The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance is one of the grant recipients.
Our critical Non-Profit Security Grant Program has grown because of your support and advocacy. Unfortunately, and too often tragically, that is in response to an increasing need. In fiscal year 2022 we distributed 250 million dollars in grant funds under this program, a 70 million dollar increase over the year prior.
We distributed a total of more than 139 million dollars to more than 1,000 Jewish organizations around the country, including 53 million dollars to more than 350 organizations in New York and New Jersey alone. President Biden’s budget for fiscal year 2023 requests that the grant program be increased to 360 million dollars.
Together, we can do more. In our Faith-Based Security Advisory Council meeting a few weeks ago, Rabbi Hauer made a very important point. There is no such thing as a “small” act of antisemitism; an act of such hate, whether it is a swastika painted on a college campus elevator or an act of vandalism against a synagogue or Jewish day school, does not victimize only those who ride that elevator or attend that synagogue or day school. It reverberates throughout our community, our country, and even the world. It spreads fear and is without borders.
We must respond accordingly. While we continue to build prevention programs and enhance our security and resilience, we must also hold the perpetrators of targeted violence, of whatever scale, accountable.
Our United States Department of Justice is fully dedicated to the prosecution of hate crimes. I and others will be engaging with investigators and prosecutors in cities and states across the country – with city attorneys, district attorneys, state attorneys general and others – to ensure that violent acts of antisemitism and other forms of hate are addressed at every level, to the fullest extent of the law.
Our work continues. While we hope to one day, of course, eradicate hate. To this end, each of us can reach out, use our convening power, and bring people together.
As we do so, we will continue to dedicate ourselves to keeping our community safe and secure. We will do so in partnership. I am very proud to work alongside you in the fight against antisemitism and other forms of hate.
Thank you very much.