(April 1, 2019 / JNS) U.S. Rep. Troy Balderson (R-Ohio) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday, asking the agency to monitor any increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes.
“As Members of Congress with constituents who may be affected by such unacceptable language and actions, we request that the Department focus efforts on tracking increased levels of anti-Semitic hate crimes,” states the letter, addressed to U.S Attorney General William Barr. “DOJ should indicate any such findings in the annual report on hate crime statistics published by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), as mandated by the Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990.”
Jews are the most targeted for hate crimes among religious groups annually, according to the FBI.
“Of the 1,749 total known victims of religiously motivated hate crimes reported in 2017, 1,017 victims identified as Jewish,” according to the letter.
Sixteen members of Congress have signed onto the letter: Reps. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), David Joyce (R-Ohio), Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), Bob Latta (R-Ohio), Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), Peter King (R-N.Y.), Tom Cole (R-Okla.), John Katko (R-N.Y.) and Randy Weber (R-Texas).
The letter was in response to the congressman’s constituents in Ohio’s 12 Congressional District replying to a survey sent by his office a few weeks ago, asking them what Congress should do to combat Jew-hatred. A letter to the DOJ garnered 37.9 percent of respondents, followed by a resolution condemning anti-Semitic remarks at 24.8 percent and Congress not getting involved because “it is unnecessary” at 16.8 percent.
Following the shooting that killed 11 people and injured six others at the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27, 2018, the DOJ launched a new government website to help people prevent and report hate crimes.
Balderson, whose godson is Jewish, told JNS that it is important that the DOJ has reporting systems in place and needs to track hate crimes.
“I think the DOJ is doing what they can do,” he said. “Anything we can do to make it better for them, we’re going to do that.”
Meanwhile, 9.6 percent of respondents replied that a hearing should be held regarding how anti-Semitism adversely affects progress in the United States.
Balderson said he would like to have a hearing, adding that it is “the conversation that I can have with my leadership and talk about doing that.”