AG Barr pledges to fight ris­ing anti-semitism

Antelope Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - By MICHAEL BAL­SAMO

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.

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.

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.

In mak­ing clear the fed­eral gov­ern­ment would step in when nec­es­sary, Barr an­nounced charges against 30-year-old Tif­fany Har­ris, who made head­lines in New York City af­ter she was ac­cused of slap­ping three peo­ple in one of a se­ries of ap­par­ently anti-Semitic at­tacks re­ported through­out New York dur­ing Hanukkah. A fed­eral crim­i­nal com­plaint de­tails how Har­ris slapped the women and shouted ex­ple­tives as she noted they were Jewish.

Her case drew head­lines in New York City af­ter she was re­leased with­out bail and then ar­rested again a day later in con­nec­tion with another as­sault. In the se­cond case, po­lice al­lege she slugged a woman in the face. She was later re-ar­rested for miss­ing an ap­point­ment with so­cial work­ers and held for a psy­chi­atric eval­u­a­tion. Har­ris’ at­tor­ney did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a call seek­ing com­ment.

“This will not be an iso­lated case,” Barr told the re­li­gious lead­ers. “We will move ag­gres­sively if we see this kind of ac­tiv­ity.”

Rich Donoghue, the U.S. at­tor­ney in Brook­lyn, said the charges had been un­der seal for sev­eral weeks and pointed to the case as an ex­am­ple of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s low tol­er­ance for anti-Semitic crime. He said fed­eral of­fi­cials would step in to pros­e­cute cases amid a de­bate over New York’s new bail re­form law.

“We are go­ing to re­spond if we feel that the laws that they are putting in place do not suf­fi­ciently ad­dress the lo­cal needs,” Donoghue told The As­so­ci­ated Press.

ASSOCAITED PRESS

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Barr (cen­ter) shakes hands with Rabbi Eli Co­hen (right) at a meet­ing with Jewish lead­ers at the Boro Park Jewish Com­mu­nity Coun­cil, Tues­day in New York.

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