CRIF leaders meet with U.S. security officials


WASHINGTON (JTA) — A delegation of leaders of the CRIF, the umbrella body for French Jews, met with top U.S. officials and discussed strategies to enhance security.

Six representatives of the CRIF, joined by officials of the Jewish Federations of North America’s Secure Community Network and the American Jewish Committee, met this week with officials at the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.

CRIF sought the meetings in the wake of shootings at a Jewish school in Toulouse in March that resulted in four deaths.

“The appalling shootings of Toulouse highlighted the importance of an increased level of protection,” said CRIF President Richard Prasquier. “We wanted to know how [security] measures are implemented in the U.S.”  

The meeting with Homeland Security officials focused on strategies to make communities more alert to dangers.

“In the wake of the tragic Toulouse shootings, the French Jewish community is focused on empowering their community and encouraging alertness over alarm,” said Paul Goldenberg, who directs SCN, which coordinates security for Jewish institutions. “Through the unprecedented relationship that the SCN and JFNA have established with the DHS, the idea of the communities becoming active participants in a culture of security has been imparted to our French counterparts."

SCN programs encourage Jews attending synagogues and Jewish community centers to be on the alert for unusual activity.

The CRIF delegation asked DOJ officials about threats to French Jews emerging from U.S.-based web sites.

First Amendment freedoms in the United States protects much hate speech, Goldenberg told JTA, but the U.S. officials said they would enhance reporting of specific threats.

"At the DOJ, conversation centered on hate speech and the role of the Internet in contributing to anti-Semitism," said a statement from SCN.  "Assurances were made that there will be an ongoing effort between the French Jewish community and a high-level point of contact at DOJ in assisting with the issue of U.S. based internet threats."

The CRIF leaders attended the American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum in Washington.

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