US Congress 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Homeland security grants to protect nonprofit facilities have been
cut nearly in half for 2012, raising concerns among some US Jewish leaders and
members of Congress who point to heightened threats facing Jewish
The Department of Homeland Security announced Friday it was
reducing the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, for which faith-based entities
are eligible, from $19 million to $10m., as part of a $1 billion reduction in
the grant money available to states, cities and private agencies to safeguard
facilities from terrorist attacks and other emergencies.
comes at the same time that federal officials are briefing Jewish organizations
on potential threats to Jewish targets in the United States, tensions between
Jerusalem and Tehran are heating up and bombing plots and against Jewish and
Israeli targets abroad have been uncovered.
“In the midst of this
escalation in rhetoric, acts abroad and the increased possibility for violent
acts at home against Jewish communal institution, we are faced with steep budget
cuts,” said William Daroff, director of the Washington office of the Jewish
Federations of North America.
“This environment is deeply troubling to
us,” he concluded.
Congressman Steve Rothman (D-New Jersey), who last
month wrote a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet
Napolitano asking that nonprofit security grants not be cut in 2012, also
pointed to a recent spate of violence toward synagogues in his state.
am disappointed and concerned that funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant
Program was reduced,” Rothman told The Jerusalem Post,
though he stressed he
appreciated the difficult budget constraints Napolitano faced. “This program
provides critical resources to help secure at-risk organizations, like the four
synagogues that have recently been targeted in my congressional
Napolitano herself pointed to tough financial conditions in
announcing how the 2012 money would be parceled out Friday.
significant reduction in grant funding this year, we are maximizing limited
grant dollars by setting clear priorities and focusing on the areas that face
the greatest risk,” Napolitano said.
A Homeland Security official
stressed to the Post
that the department “maintains a strong commitment to the
Nonprofit Security Grant Program,” and said the remaining $10m. would be used
for “target hardening and other physical security enhancements at nonprofit
organizations that are at high risk of terrorist attack.”
added that for the first time, the Federal Emergency Management Agency would
make nonprofit organizations the recipient for special Law Enforcement Terrorism
Prevention Activities funding, though it was not immediately clear how much
would be available for Jewish institutions.
Some Jewish groups have
expressed appreciation for the money that remains in the nonprofit funding
Nathan Diament of the Orthodox Union said his organization
welcomed the funding and added, “We are also grateful to the Obama
administration for working with us to identify other means by which the DHS and
state law enforcement agencies can secure and protect our community and
compensate for the budget cuts imposed by Congress.”
Daroff, too, pointed
to the new FEMA funding as a positive sign.
“We are pleased that DHS
recognizes the important role that nonprofits play in protecting the homeland,
and responding to emergencies. Their inclusion in LETPA is a good step
And he said, “While tough decisions where made by Congress and
the administration, we appreciate the outreach both branches of the federal
government have made leading up to today’s funding announcement, and we are
grateful for, although not delighted about, the reduced allocation.”