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Virginia Lawmakers Grappling With How to Combat Dramatic Rise in Antisemitism

Virginia lawmakers are grappling with how to combat a dramatic rise in antisemitism in the wake of ongoing violence in the Middle East.

Republicans and Democrats alike are unveiling several proposals, including strengthening Virginia’s hate crime law and investing in programs to combat antisemitism.

“I have four children and I cannot believe, it’s hard for me to believe that I am bringing them into a situation that I thought was part of history,” Rabbi Dovid Asher of Keneseth Beth Israel in Richmond told 8News while holding back tears.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, between Oct. 7th and Dec. 7, there have been over 2,031 antisemitic incidents, a 337% rise compared to the same time last year.

“Just this past Saturday night, three partitioners exited services and they were verbally attacked by a car passing by,” Rabbi Asher said.

To combat the hate, Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) is proposing increasing funding for the state’s Combating Hate Crime Grant Program. The program currently allows localities to partner with places of worship and other organizations to help pay for safety improvements.

“We are increasing law enforcement personnel,” Asher explained. “We are paying off-duty police officers. This is stretching our budget. We cannot practice our faith and our religion without these additional expenses to secure our safety.”

Meanwhile, Delegate Dan Helmer (D) has introduced a bill to strengthen Virginia’s hate crime law to protect people targeted because of their ethnicity.

“There is something around identifying as a Jew, even if you aren’t religiously practicing as a Jew, that is important and a major component of the antisemitic rhetoric out there in the world,” Helmer told 8News.

In October, Governor Youngkin issued an executive order that created a situation room to help law enforcement across Virginia combat anti-religious hate.

Source: Wric