The Anti-Defamation League’s Southeast office in Buckhead was among four ADL offices and at least 17 other Jewish institutions to receive bomb threats by phone or email Tuesday and Wednesday, March 7 and 8.
“This is not ‘normal.’ We will not be deterred or intimidated,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement on Twitter. “It is time for action, and we call on the Administration and Congress to take concrete steps to catch those threatening the Jewish community.”
The latest wave of bomb threats, at least the sixth since the Marcus Jewish Community Center and others received phoned threats Jan. 9, included the fourth threat to the Levine JCC in Birmingham on Tuesday and the first threat to the Louisville JCC on Wednesday.
The Louisville JCC was evacuated just before noon and given the all-clear about two hours later, the Courier-Journal reported.
The ADL count of such threats since the start of January has reached 140, according to an interactive map the agency maintains.
“JCCs have demonstrated incredible resilience over the past several weeks, relying on long-practiced measures to ensure that we can safely and effectively serve communities across the continent,” JCC Association of North America CEO and President Doron Krakow said in a statement Wednesday. “We will not allow anti-Semitism to get in the way of our providing our invaluable programs.”
The JCC Association, which joined the ADL and other Jewish organizations in meeting with FBI Director James Comey on March 3, sent a letter Wednesday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions that expressed frustration at the lack of progress in stopping the hoax calls, which disrupt operations, traumatize children and others (Jewish and non-Jewish) using the centers, force costly security reviews and changes, and risk people not taking real danger seriously.
“The potential ripple effect of these threats locally and nationally cannot be understated,” reads the letter, signed by 141 leaders of the JCC movement. The signers include Atlantans Lisa Brill, who is on the national association board, and Jared Powers, the CEO of the Marcus JCC, as well the leaders of Jewish centers in Savannah and Augusta; Birmingham; Louisville; Memphis and Nashville, Tenn.; New Orleans; Charleston and Columbia, S.C.; and Asheville, Charlotte, Durham and Raleigh, N.C.
More than 2 million people a year visit JCCs, whose movement is marking its centennial, the letter reads. “We will not allow anti-Semitism to get in our way. But the Justice Department, alongside fellow federal and local agencies and officials, and Congress have a responsibility to speak out — and speak out forcefully — against the threats impacting communities across the country.”
The letter requests a meeting with Sessions as soon as possible.
The JCC letter came a day after all 100 U.S. senators signed a letter calling for swift action by the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the FBI in response to the bomb threats.
The FBI last week arrested a St. Louis man in connection with eight threats against Jewish institutions, none in the South, but that case appears to be unrelated to the overwhelming majority of the bomb threats. Juan Thompson is accused of using the threats to harass and frame an ex-girlfriend.