Jewish Federations announces $54m plan to protect US communities

The Jewish Federations of North America announced the launch of a $54 M campaign to provide security for its member Jewish communities in the United States, as a response to the threat of antisemitism.

Over the next three years the LiveSecure initiative will ensure that each of the JFNA umbrella group’s 146 communities across the country have a Community Security Initiative. Currently, 45 such communities are protected in this way.

The project will provide “the resources and know-how to secure… vital institutions in the face of rising antisemitism,” a statement from the JFNA said.

“That will more than triple the current number of communities with comprehensive community security initiatives,” said National Campaign Chair for the Jewish Federations and LiveSecure chair Julie Platt. “And we want to help our existing security initiatives to upgrade and continually address emerging threats,”

The plan was announced at the annual Jewish Federations General Assembly, which was held virtually, and where speakers addressed concerns over antisemitism.

“We have the leadership, we have the strength, the resources, the structure, to overcome any setbacks, and we must do this,” Israeli President Isaac Herzog said in an address to the event. “We must build alliances with other communities that have been the targets of hate, and we must ensure that Jews are safe to be Jews in America and elsewhere around the world.”

Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the assembly that “There’s an urgent need to protect Jewish communities.”

“Despite all that’s happening, all the anger and attacks, you refuse to be silenced,” Haley said. “Just the opposite: you’re speaking out and standing strong. You’re protecting one another while rallying others to do what’s right, and fight what’s wrong.”

Vice chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security Rep. Ritchie Torres, a Democrat of New York, warned: “We are sitting on a powder keg of antisemitism, and the Jewish community and all of us cannot afford to be complacent.”

An FBI report released last month found anti-Jewish hate crimes dropped from 953 in 2019 to 676 last year, a decrease of 29 percent. However, anti-Jewish crimes again made up the majority of hate crimes based on religion in the annual report, which recorded the largest number of overall hate crimes since 2008.

Scholars and officials have cautioned against viewing the report as a comprehensive reflection of the state of hate crimes in America.

In an audit released earlier this year, the Anti-Defamation League reported more than 2,000 incidents of antisemitism in 2020, a slight decrease from 2019. The discrepancy between the ADL’s and FBI’s numbers is due to differences in methodology. The ADL gleans its tally from individuals, organizations and media reports as well as police. For the FBI to count an incident, it has to rise to the level