Jewish Leaders Express Relief at Arrest in Israel

Bender JCC of Greater Washington on Montrose Road

Bender JCC of Greater Washington on Montrose Road

The leader of a Jewish Community Center in Rockville said Thursday he was relieved at the arrest of an Israeli 19-year-old for the series of bomb scares that were called in Jewish sites across the United States.

But the arrest won’t change much at the Bender JCC of Greater Washington, said its CEO, Michael Feinstein.

“The new procedures that we put in place are our new standard because we’ve seen how easy it is to be disruptive,” Feinstein said.

The Washington Post reported the FBI and Israeli law enforcement arrested the young man Thursday. Believed to be behind the bulk of the threats, the man holds U.S. citizenship. The New York Times reported that a judge imposed an “order of silence,” forbidding authorities from releasing his name.

The FBI released this statement Thursday afternoon:

Early this morning in Israel, the FBI and Israeli National Police worked jointly to locate and arrest the individual suspected for threats to Jewish organizations across the United States and in other parts of the world. The FBI commends the great work of the Israeli National Police in this investigation.

Investigating hate crimes is a top priority for the FBI, and we will continue to work to make sure all races and religions feel safe in their communities and in their places of worship. At this time, we cannot provide additional information on the investigation.

“From what I’ve read so far, it was quite a collaboration between our law enforcement, Israeli law enforcement and other law enforcement agencies. I think they did an incredible job,” said Michael Feinstein, CEO of the Bender JCC of Greater Washington on Montrose Road.

The new procedures Feinstein referred to include extra security and random bag checks for people who are not JCC members, he said.

Ron Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington in  Rockville, said the bomb threats caused a great deal of disruption.

“They inhibited our ability to educate our children and provide services at our institutions,” he said.

He expressed sadness that a Jewish individual was making these calls to Jewish institutions.

“History has shown one can be Jewish and anti-Semitic simultaneously,” he said.

Because of the uptick in hate crimes in the region, the Jewish Community Centers have asked the state and county for financial assistance to increase security.

Feinstein said the arrest of one individual wouldn’t change the need for shatter-resistant glass for the windows, a request that the county and state are helping to pay for.

In the Jan. 9 bomb threat, Feinstein said he believed a woman called in the threat. He said he has learned the person had voice-disguising technology available to him.

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Douglas Tallman

About Douglas Tallman

Reporter with 35 years experience throughout Maryland. Reach me at dtallman@mymcmedia.org or via Twitter at @MCM-Doug

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