Who says Washington can’t get anything done? On Tuesday, during the markup for the Homeland Security Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2016, the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Committee approved the addition of $600 million for Urban Area Security Initiative grants, including an increase to $25 million for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program.
Such funds have been critical in providing fixes like security cameras, concrete barriers, metal detectors, and other structural improvements to protect Jewish communities and institutions. Last year, according to Religion News Service, New Jersey received 18 NSGP grants. Most went to Jewish organizations, as well as to a Sikh organization, an evangelical church, and a Catholic prep school. Jewish institutions receive the lion’s share of these funds because “Jewish persons and property are more likely to be the targets of hate crimes than all other religious groups combined. The major criteria used to judge grant applications is prior threats and risk assessments,” RNS reports.
The increase comes at a time when anti-Semitism in the United States has risen by more than 21 percent between 2013 and 2014, and when terrorist groups like ISIL, Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, and Hizbullah continue to incite violence against Jews in the West. Jewish federations have been deeply involved with the creation and funding of the NSGP along with many partners, including the Orthodox Union.
The Jewish Federations of North America applauded the committee’s actions, noting that at a time of increased anti-Semitic activity in the United States and abroad, it is even more important to provide protection for Jewish communities.
“We applaud the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee and, in particular, chairman John Hoeven (R-ND), ranking member Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) for supporting an increase in the Nonprofit Security Grant Program’s funding to $25 million,” said William Daroff, senior vice president for public policy and director of the Washington office of JFNA, in a statement. “We encourage the full Senate and the House of Representatives to swiftly move forward in approving these important funds.”