Top elected officials in Montana condemn attacks on Jewish community


(JTA) — The two U.S. senators from Montana and its governor were among the state’s top elected officials who condemned attacks on the Jewish community there and across the nation.

Sens. Jon Tester, a Democrat, and Steve Daines, a Republican, along with Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, were among those who signed on to an open letter issued Tuesday. U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke and state Attorney General Tim Fox, both Republicans, also signed.

“We condemn attacks on our religious freedom manifesting in a group of anti-Semites,” the officials wrote. “We stand firmly together to send a clear message that ignorance, hatred and threats of violence are unacceptable and have no place in the town of Whitefish, or in any other community in Montana or across this nation. We say to those few who seek to publicize anti-Semitic views that they shall find no safe haven here.”

The elected officials said they offer their “full support” to Montana’s Jewish community as well as families, businesses, faith organizations and law enforcement officers.

“We will address these threats directly and forcefully, putting our political differences aside to stand up for what’s right. That’s the Montana way, and the American way. Rest assured, any demonstration or threat of intimidation against any Montanan’s religious liberty will not be tolerated,” they said.

The statement follows two incidents that have shaken the state’s Jewish residents.

An elderly man last week was identified as the person who last month distributed American Nazi Party fliers in residential neighborhoods of Missoula, prompting a local synagogue to ask for increased police protection.

Also, The Daily Stormer, a white supremacist publication, published a blog post earlier in the month calling for followers to “take action” against Jews in Whitefish, home to white supremacist Richard Spencer, by writing and calling them with anti-Semitic messages. The post included the names, phone numbers and addresses of Jewish Whitefish residents — in addition to the Twitter handle and photo of a child.

Last week, the website announced it would hold an armed march against Jews through the town.

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