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JPAC Urges California Legislature to Enact Anti-Hate Agenda as ADL Report Reveals Incidents Reach All-Time Highs

JPAC’s Priority Legislation and Budget Requests Take Comprehensive Approach to Combating Antisemitism and Hate as ADL’s Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents Reveals Record Levels in California and United States

 

The Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California (JPAC) joins the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a JPAC member organization, in calling attention to the alarming rise in antisemitic incidents, and urges the California Legislature to act immediately to address the continued tide of rising hate.

 

The ADL’s Audit of Antisemitic Incidents 2021 released this morning reveals that from 2020 to 2021, the number of antisemitic incidents rose 27% in California and 34% across the United States. The 2021 levels in both the state and the nation represent all-time highs, and are nearly triple the rates in 2015.

 

JPAC’s recently announced 2022 Legislative Agenda includes a record 11 bills and budget requests under consideration by the California State Legislature that work to combat antisemitism and hate. As the Jewish community reels from record levels of antisemitism and a recent hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, TX, this package takes a comprehensive approach to rooting out hatred and protecting against hate-motivated violence.

 

“The ADL’s report confirms what so many of us in the Jewish community already felt to be true: that antisemitic and hate incidents are happening around us – to us – at staggering levels beyond that of any time in recent memory,” said David Bocarsly, JPAC’s Executive Director. “We also know we are not alone. Our friends and neighbors in other minority communities are experiencing similar anxiety and fear as this recent tide of hate affects us all. Our legislative agenda supports policies that tackle each stage in the evolution of hatred: education, preventing its spread, physical security, and community response. We call on the legislature to swiftly and urgently enact our anti-hate agenda, to protect Jews and all people in the State of California.”

 

“These acts of harassment, vandalism, and propaganda aren’t simply numbers, they’re stories that cause a ripple effect of terror – striking fear in our communities. We cannot, and will not, tolerate this as our new normal,” says Kendall Kosai, Director of Policy for ADL’s Western Division. “We look forward to working together with California elected leaders and JPAC on initiatives that fight back against all forms of hate in our communities.”

 

The following 11 priority items that combat antisemitism and hate are part of JPAC’s larger Legislative Agenda. Selected and approved by the Board – representatives from 30 of California’s major Jewish organizations – JPAC’s legislative priorities include a slate of 28 bills and 10 budget requests. In addition to addressing the Jewish community’s core safety concerns, this Legislative Agenda advocates for critical social services for those in need.

 

On May 9-10, 2022, nearly 200 Jewish community leaders will be gathering in Sacramento for JPAC Advocacy Day to lobby the legislature on behalf of these priorities. Advocacy Day – JPAC’s premier annual policy conference and advocacy effort – is returning in-person for the first time in three years and will honor JPAC’s historic 50th year.

 

JPAC’s Combating Antisemitism and Hate Agenda

 

Education About the Impact of Letting Hatred Go Unchecked

 

SB 693 (Stern): Creates a large-scale study to assess the state of Holocaust and Genocide Education in the state.

 

Renovate and Expand the JFCS Holocaust Center – $3 million: Supports renovation and expansion efforts for the JFCS Holocaust Center, the preeminent organization in Northern California for Holocaust and genocide education, serving 28,000+ students, teachers, and community members each year. The building renovation project will preserve and enhance a wide range of critical programs and activities to better serve current and future educators, students, scholars, Holocaust survivors and their descendants.

Funding for the Governor’s Council on Holocaust and Genocide Education – $1.4 million: The Governor’s Council on Holocaust and Genocide Education was established by executive action from Governor Newsom in 2021. Inspired by Senator Henry Stern’s JPAC-sponsored bill, the Council’s creation was a major victor for JPAC. The Council’s formation and mission are currently being developed, but they have little ability to ensure the proper educational goals are being achieved without funding.

Preventing the Spread of Hate

 

AB 587 (Gabriel): Requires social media companies to report their hate content policies as well as how hate continues to proliferate on their platforms.

 

Physical Security to Protect Against the Manifestations of Hate

 

AB 1664 (Gabriel): Extends and expands the state’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) to waive the sunset clause and include security training. Security training is provided by many Jewish Federations and was used by Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker to escape the hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, TX, in January.

 

Nonprofit Security Grant Program Budget Request – $80 million: Provides assistance to nonprofit organizations at risk of hate-motivated violence to enhance their physical security infrastructure. Last year’s state budget included a record $50 million for the NSGP, but it was still insufficient to meet the demand as over 350 organizations applied for funding. JPAC has championed this request every year.

 

Community’s Response and the Search for More Solutions

 

AB 2282 (Bauer-Kahan): Brings penalties for wielding the noose, the burning cross, and the swastika into parity; expands code to ban these symbols in more places.

 

SB 1330 (Borgeas): Clarifies that a threat is treated the same whether it is against a person, an entity or building. It also limits the punishment of a juvenile perpetrator. This is important as most are juvenile offenders who engage in this activity and without a true finding of violation of a criminal statute, that minor will not likely receive social services or mental health assistance. These threats may be a cry for help and will continue to slip through the cracks of our current system.

 

AB 2549 (Bonta & Weber): Requires the California Department of Public Health to conduct research and a 5-year, statewide, public campaign to raise awareness and understanding of street harassment as a public health problem in the state with the purpose of preventing its occurrence.

 

SB 1161 (Min): Requires transit agencies to collect and study data about harassment commuters face while riding public transport and to develop policies which mitigate such harassment.

 

Funding for the Commission on the State of Hate: AB 1126 (Bloom) was a JPAC-sponsored bill signed into law in 2021, establishing the Commission on the State of hate. Similar to the Governor’s Council on Holocaust and Genocide Education, the Commission needs funding to further its mission of analyzing and proposing policy solutions to root out hate. Negotiations are underway about the amount needed for this request.

 

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