Jewish, Muslim, Arab American groups make joint recommendations to combat violent white nationalists

Jewish, Muslim, Arab American groups make joint recommendations to combat violent white nationalists

February 03, 2021

Media Contacts: 

Logan Smith, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action – [email protected], 202-709-8825
Eric Naing, Muslim Advocates – [email protected]
Nadia Aziz, Arab American Institute – [email protected]

Jewish, Muslim, Arab American groups make joint recommendations to combat violent white nationalists
Opposes proposed expansion of domestic terror authority, which could result in harm to the very communities white nationalists are attacking

WASHINGTON – Jewish, Muslim, and Arab American community organizations have joined together to make recommendations on effective ways to combat voilent white nationist groups.  Their recommendations include opposing any efforts to expand the government’s legal authority related to terrorism, including new charges of domestic terrorism. 

Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Muslim Advocates, and the Arab American Institute are calling for specific actions to address white nationalist infiltration of law enforcement and  ensure the equal enforcement of laws already on the books. 

“We must ensure that our government addresses white nationalist violence as effectively as possible, but that doesn’t mean reinforcing counterterrorism efforts that are rooted in bias, discrimination, and denial of due process,” said Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, Washington Director of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action. “Instead of doubling down on the discriminatory ‘war on terror’ with new and unnecessary laws, Congress should focus on redirecting existing resources towards the ever-growing white nationalist violence plaguing our country, and hold law enforcement accountable in doing so.”

The three organizations met with and sent a memo to the Biden transition team opposing any laws creating a new crime of domestic terrorism, including the Confronting the Threats of Domestic Terrorism Act (H.R. 4192 in the 116th Congress) or any other new charges or sentencing enhancements expected to be introduced in the 117th Congress “to penalize acts of domestic terrorism.” 

“Giving law enforcement yet more, unnecessary counterterrorism powers will not do anything meaningful to prevent white nationalist violence and will ultimately harm communities of color and religious minorities—namely Black and Brown communities, including Arab Americans and Muslims,” said Madihha Ahussain, Muslim Advocates’ special counsel for anti-Muslim bigotry. “Creating new federal domestic terrorism statutes won’t make us safer. What we need is for law enforcement to finally listen to impacted communities of color and refocus the wide range of existing authorities already at their disposal to deal with the real threat: violent white nationalism.”

Instead, the organizations’ letter to the Biden administration includes the following major recommendations:

  • Prioritize combatting white nationalist violence using all existing legal avenues, including hate crime laws and the over fifty laws on the books that apply to acts that meet the definition of domestic terrorism
  • Investigate white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement and update the Department of Justice’s 2014 Guidance for Federal Law Enforcement Agencies regarding the use of race, ethnicity, gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity  to close loopholes that allow for profiling on the boarder, in instances of national security, and by local law enforcement,
  • Directly address the ongoing and interconnected impact of white supremacy in areas like justice, housing, education, health, and employment,
  • Fulfil the Biden campaign’s commitment to end the harmful “Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention” and “Countering Violent Extremism” Programs, and
  • Fulfil the Biden campaign’s key legislative priorities such as the Jabara Heyer NO HATE Act, the NO BAN Act, and the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act.

“White nationalists can be held accountable for acts of violence in ways that do not further harm communities that have been targeted by counterterrorism policies, including communities of color and religious minorities.” said Maya Berry, Executive Director of the Arab American Institute. She continued, “Law enforcement has broad, existing authority to investigate acts of violence, and prosecutors have the entire federal criminal code at their disposal—they simply need to choose to apply it to white supremacist violence. During a critical time in our nation’s history where we seek to reckon with the inherent bias built into the criminal justice system, we must also address the impact of policies related to the “war on terror” and the harm they have had on our communities before a Biden Administration or members of Congress seek to provide additional legal authority that we know would be used to target us.”

Click here to read the full memo to the Biden transition team from Bend the Arc: Jewish Actio, Muslim Advocates, and the Arab-American Institute.