Cantor: Some threats have been because I’m Jewish

WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor said he has received threats partly because he is Jewish.

Cantor, the U.S. House of Representatives minority whip, held a news conference March 25 to accuse Democrats of exploiting what he depicted as routine incidents of hate mail in order to blame conservative rhetoric for a rising tide of violence in the wake of the Democrats’ health care win.

"I’ve received threats since I assumed elected office, not only because of my positions, but because I am Jewish," Cantor said. "I’ve never blamed anyone in this body for that. Period. Any suggestion that a leader in this body that would incite threats or acts against other members is akin to saying that I would endanger myself, my wife or my children."

Cantor said he received threatening e-mails, but that he would not release them so as not to encourage more. Democratic leaders accusing conservatives of incitement are "reckless," Cantor said.

The Democrats, in announcing heightened security measures this week, have said the attacks — including some on congressional offices — are an intensification of the routine flow of hate mail. Party leaders also have blamed Tea Party activists, who flooded the Capitol during the vote, hurling epithets at black and gay lawmakers. At least one Jewish lawmaker also was targeted with anti-Semitic mail.

Capitol Police have expanded protection because of the attacks.

Cantor also noted that a bullet was shot at his Richmond office this week, and said he still did not know the cause.

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