In Wake of Recent Threats, Portman Stands with Jewish Community

March 6, 2017 | Press Releases

On Friday, Senator Portman visited the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus and met with Ohio Jewish leaders to discuss the recent threats to Ohio communities. Portman went to “condemn these threats in the strongest possible terms” and to stand in solidarity with the Jewish community in Ohio and across the United States at this time. Portman is urging Homeland Security Secretary Kelly, Attorney General Sessions, and FBI Director Comey to take swift actions against these threats.

Excerpts of, and links to, stories from around the state highlighting Portman’s visit on Friday can be found below:

Columbus Dispatch

Senator Rob Portman spent part of his day Friday in Columbus where he met with Ohio Jewish leaders at the Community Center of Greater Columbus to discuss the recent threats to Ohio communities.

Portman, R-Ohio, who condemned the attacks in January, announced that he was leading a bipartisan group of senators to urge Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and FBI Director James Comey to further investigate these threats. One arrest was made in St. Louis on Friday morning.

Cleveland Plain Dealer

“History teaches us that by not addressing hate and bigotry when we see it, and therefore allow it to grow, it can have devastating consequences,” Portman said. “An attack on the Jewish community center is an attack on all of us.”

Portman met with Jewish leaders from across the state and law enforcement officials Friday at the Greater Columbus Jewish Community Center, which received a bomb threat on Jan. 18, along with 20 other centers across the country.

Portman said he supported spending more money to increase security at nonprofits, including Jewish and Muslim institutions. Bipartisan legislation introduced this week would direct $20 million to better protect religious and faith-based facilities. The bill would also double the penalty for making a false bomb threat from five to 10 years in prison.

Cleveland Jewish News

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati, condemned the bomb threats that have been leveled against JCC’s across the United States in recent weeks, including those in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.

He also spoke about the vandalism and destruction at three Jewish cemeteries in recent weeks and the swastika painted on a sign at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati in January.

Portman also announced he is spearheading the creation of a letter urging Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey to investigate the recent threats and anti-Semitic crimes with increased fervor. The letter, which has garnered bipartisan support, is being finalized. It will then be distributed among the nation’s 100 senators in the hopes every senator will sign it, which is what Portman said he expected to happen. Once the document has made the rounds of the U.S. Senate, Portman will forward it to the appropriate federal authorities.

WOSU Radio

In the last two months, over 100 Jewish centers across the country have received bomb threats, including the Jewish Community Center of Columbus. On Friday, Senator Rob Portman visited with leaders of Ohio’s Jewish community to condemn these attacks as un-American and call for a firm response.

Portman says he’s drafted a letter to the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice asking that investigations into the rash of anti-Semitic attacks be made a priority.

“[I’m] talking about this more broadly as a threat and an attack on our values as country,” Portman said. “The values of tolerance. The values of diversity.”

Portman says this funding would help pay for additional security, like cameras and security guards.

Cincinnati WLWT

Anchor: “Concern now growing about unsolved cases including those right here in our own backyard. And WLWT’s own John London was in Columbus today as Senator Rob Portman met with key Jewish leaders from all around the state.”

John London: “Up and down this state, Jewish Community Centers have been targeted and affected by the bomb threats. This one here in suburban Columbus and the Mayerson Center back home in Cincinnati. Ohio Senator Rob Portman touring the Jewish Community Center in Columbus spoke about the great anxiety the recent wave of bomb threats has caused.

“Howie Beigelman, Director of Ohio’s Jewish Communities, joins several other leaders like Sarah Weiss of Cincinnati’s Jewish Community Relations Council around a table to today to talk with Senator Portman about a bipartisan letter to Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and the FBI.”

Senator Portman: The letter asks them to prioritize these investigations to get to the bottom of it – to ensure that we’re doing everything we possibly can to find out who’s responsible and also to provide adequate protection.”

Columbus ABC 6

Anchor: “Senator Rob Portman toured the Jewish Community Center in East Columbus this afternoon and says he’s joining a bipartisan group of senators urging the FBI to prioritize its investigation into the recent bomb threats. Meantime, Jewish leaders say their keeping their community centers open as usual.

“Portman and the Jewish leaders say that anti-Semitism has lingered for years but the FBI statistics now show there’s been a spike in threats to the Jewish people in the last year.”

Youngstown ABC 33

Anchor: “Ohio Senator Rob Portman took a tour of a Jewish Community Center in Columbus today. He talked about the recent threats made to Jewish Centers around the country. He announced that he’s leading a bipartisan group of Senators calling for a federal investigation into the threats.”

Cincinnati Fox 19

Anchor: “Senator Portman spent the day at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus to address all of these threats.”

Senator Portman: I’m here to join the community to condemn these threats in the strongest possible terms. I’m also here to say that these are not just attacks on the Jewish Community. These attacks are on all of us. These are attacks on our values, including the values of tolerance and respect for others.”

Anchor: “Portman is asking the Department of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and the FBI Director to keep investigating all these threats.”