Orthodox Union director of public policy Nathan Diament joined other Jewish community leaders in a session with high-ranking government officials including Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at the White House last Friday to launch a new partnership between DHS and Jewish community organizations – including the Orthodox Union. The alliance marks the first time the governmental security agency has teamed up with a faith-based community to address the threat of terrorism.
During the White House meeting, DHS announced plans to advance the “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign, DHS’ nationwide program to engage the public in identifying and reporting indicators of terrorism, crime and other threats.
The campaign, which will be launched in association with the Jewish Federation-backed Secure Community Network (SCN) – in which the Orthodox Union is a partner agency — includes customized posters, announcements and alerts for Synagogues, day schools and other community organizations.
“Homeland security begins with hometown security, and our nation’s faith-based organizations play a critical role in keeping our communities safe,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Expanding the ‘If You See Something, Say Something™’ campaign to national Jewish groups, the first faith-based partnership for the campaign, is an important step in the Department’s ongoing effort to engage the American public in our nation’s security efforts.”
Others attending the White House meeting included leaders of the Jewish Federations of North America, Conference of Presidents of Jewish Organizations, American Jewish Committee, ADL and others.
“Our synagogues and schools are, unfortunately, often targets for terrorists,” said Diament. “This new partnership with the Department of Homeland Security will empower us to counter this threat as we become more actively involved in our own protection.”
“We are grateful for the opportunity to work with DHS and SCN to better protect U.S. Jewish institutions from potential threats.”
The security threat to Jewish community centers, schools and places of worship has not abated since the death of Osama bin Laden. Days after his killing, al Qaeda in Yemen called for retaliatory attacks against Jewish targets. Unrelated but recent examples of successful or thwarted terror attacks on U.S. Jewish institutions include:
• New York City, May 2011: Two men trying to buy pistols and hand grenades were arrested for their alleged plot to attack Manhattan synagogues;
• Chicago, October 2010: A bomb-maker for al Qeada attempted to ship air cargo bombs addressed to Chicago-based synagogues;
• Philadelphia, Atlanta, New York, Louisville, Nashville, Memphis, Little Rock, December 2009: An American citizen and self-proclaimed follower of al Qeada in the Arabian Peninsula targeted Jewish institutions across the U.S. before being arrested for his attack on an army recruiting center in Little Rock.
During the course of the meeting, Diament also discussed with Secretary Napolitano the critically important “Non Profit Security Grant Program” – whose creation the Orthodox Union spearheaded and which has delivered millions of dollars in grants to synagogues and schools to upgrade their security and preparedness. The Secretary stated her strong support for the NPSG program and her intention to work with the Orthodox Union to ensure it is properly funded by Congress next year.
(YWN Desk – NYC)