Jewish groups tracking anti-religious violence as Trump disbands branch focused on domestic terrorism


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Two former homeland security secretaries will co-chair a task force convened by national Jewish organizations aimed at tracking anti-religious violence.

The task force, announced Tuesday, is a joint project of the Anti-Defamation League and Secure Community Network, a Jewish self-defense initiative.

Its co-chairs are Jeh Johnson, the Homeland Security secretary under President Barack Obama, and Michael Chertoff, who held the job under President George W. Bush, and who is Jewish.

The initiative arose after the attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue complex in October that killed 11 Jewish worshippers, the worst anti-Jewish attack in U.S. history.

“The task force will develop best practices to increase coordination and cooperation related to incident tracking, information sharing, reporting and addressing threats,” a joint ADL-SCN release said.

The Trump administration’s Homeland Security Department recently disbanded an intelligence unit that tracked right-wing violence, drawing criticism from groups that track hate crimes. The alleged Pittsburgh killer was a white supremacist who blamed Jews for supporting an “invasion” of migrants into the United States.

“This move defies logic,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL’s CEO and national director, about the closing of the Homeland Security branch focused on domestic terrorism. “The current administration has been chipping away at our nation’s ability to address a deadly serious national security threat: right-wing extremism. To simply disregard this threat, especially after what we witnessed in Pittsburgh, Charlottesville, Charleston, and even overseas in Christchurch, New Zealand, could put lives at risk.”

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