Lawmakers condemn threats to PA Jewish Community Centers

Lawmakers condemn threats to PA Jewish Community Centers

Author: Jason Gottesman/Monday, February 27, 2017/Categories: News and Views

As a nationwide rash of threats to Jewish Community Centers hit Pennsylvania Monday with bomb threats levied toward Jewish Community Centers in Harrisburg and York, state leaders were condemning the threats of violence and destruction.


The threats also come on the heels of a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia being desecrated over the weekend.


“Any anti-Semitic act or act of intimidation aimed at Jewish institutions and people in Pennsylvania is truly reprehensible and we must find those responsible and hold them accountable. This is not who we are as Americans or Pennsylvanians,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement.


"We will not take these threats and acts lightly and I have asked the Pennsylvania State Police and Office of Homeland Security to offer their full resources towards protecting these institutions and finding those responsible.”


Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said his office is providing its “full support” to federal, state, and local law enforcement.


"These acts are cowardly," he said. "Their perpetrators aim to spread fear, but we will stand together to ensure they fail. Intimidation and threats against the people of any one faith are an affront to us all."


Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, who used to represent York in the state House of Representatives expressed his frustration with the threats.


“I am beyond angry to learn of widespread reports this morning that Jewish community centers, including those in Harrisburg and York as well as all across the U.S., are once again the victims of bomb and other threats from what clearly is an organized group of cowardly, anti-Semitic thugs," he said.


“The tenor of politics in the country clearly seems to have emboldened such vile haters, and that must cease.  It is the duty of every American – especially our state and national political leaders — to speak up and fight against such hate. Ignoring these threats will only allow these dregs of humanity — I’m not sure we should give these people credit to say they are part of humanity — gain strength.”


Republican candidate for governor and current state Senator from York County, Sen. Scott Wagner, said he will be introducing a resolution when the Senate returns to session condemning the threats.


“Today York, Pennsylvania, joined the unfortunate ranks of areas targeted by anti-Semitic acts of terrorism with a bomb threat called into the York Jewish Community Center.  We cannot – and we should not – tolerate such hate within our state or our nation," he said.


“While we are all entitled to our opinions and freedom of speech, actions like those carried out today towards our Jewish Community Centers and other recent acts of vandalism in Jewish cemeteries in Pennsylvania are unconscionable and should be condemned.”


Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) also released a statement condemning the threats.


“As a Jew with the last name ‘Leach,’ I have always heard what many people say when they don't know a Jew is around. But what used to be slurs and insults has turned into bomb threats, desecrated graves and babies in cribs wheeled out of daycare centers in a panic," he said.


"Where does the empowerment of hate lead? Wherever it is, it can't be good.”

Republican leaders in the House of Representatives condemned the threats Monday afternoon.

"An attack on one religion is an attack on all religions, and the recent acts of hate and anti-Semitism occurring in the Commonwealth should outrage all Pennsylvanians. Threats, vandalism or attacks on the Jewish community – and all communities of faith or ethnicity -- must never be tolerated," read a joint statement from House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana), and Appropriations Committee Majority Chairman Stan Saylor (R-York).
"We are calling for total cooperation by federal, state and local law enforcement authorities as they quickly investigate these crimes and encourage anyone with information about these crimes to contact the local authorities immediately."


Various reports have indicated the threats all appear to be hoaxes and the two community centers subject to the threats Monday have all reopened for normal business.


An investigation into the Philadelphia incident is still ongoing.