Members of Congress, Senators condemn Monsey attack

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle unite in decrying hateful act against Jews over Hanukkah.

A man holds a sign outside the home of rabbi Chaim Rottenberg in Monsey (photo credit: JEENAH MOON/REUTERS)
A man holds a sign outside the home of rabbi Chaim Rottenberg in Monsey
(photo credit: JEENAH MOON/REUTERS)
The House of Representatives Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism has condemned the horrific antisemitic attack in Monsey, New York.
As the Jewish community concludes the holiday of Hanukkah this week, “It is more important than ever that all Jews are able to celebrate their faith safely,” the co-chairs of the task force said in a statement
“The trend of increasing antisemitic violence and incidents in recent years cannot continue,” they added. “In the coming weeks, the task force will reach out to law enforcement officials, community organizations, and experts in combating hate crimes to seek answers for the best ways to fight this scourge. The task force stands united with the Jewish community and is committed to ending these hateful crimes once and for all.”
Similarly, the Leadership of the Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations issued a condemnation as well. Co-chairs wrote in their press release that the surge in antisemitic attacks is a disturbing trend both in the United States and abroad.
“We cannot tolerate these discriminatory, hateful, and cowardly acts,” they wrote. “We stand with the victims in Monsey, their families, and the entire Jewish community – who have been victims of violent attacks during Hanukkah, a holiday that celebrates religious freedom.”
“Every individual in this country deserves to feel safe and worship without fear,” the statement said. “It is our commitment to diversity that has made the United States a beacon of hope and a place of sanctuary for people around the world. The Caucus will continue to stand united in fighting for liberty and justice for all.”
The attack also drew bipartisan condemnation from both sides of the aisle in the US Senate. Minority leader Chuck Schumer said it was “an act of pure evil.”
“The cascade in antisemitic attacks is outrageous throughout metropolitan New York and America, and must not be tolerated,” he added. “We need a thorough federal investigation of this specific attack and of all the recent attacks.”
Majority leader Mitch McConnell tweeted: “Another horrifying antisemitic attack. Another terrible reminder that the fight against hate and bigotry, especially antisemitism, is far from finished, even right here at home. My condolences go out to the victims of last night’s attack in Monsey.”
Bryan K. Barnett, president of the United States Conference of Mayors, said: “America’s mayors condemn in the strongest possible terms the numerous acts of antisemitism that have occurred in the New York area over the last weeks, including last night’s shocking attack in Monsey, New York, during a Hanukkah celebration in a rabbi’s home.”
“These acts constitute domestic terrorism, and as a nation, we must recognize them for what they are and work to prevent them from occurring in the future, with the same commitment we have made to preventing international terrorism,” he added.
On Sunday, police announced that Thomas Grafton, 37, was arrested for the alleged antisemitic stabbing attack in Monsey, which left two people critically wounded. Local media reports said the perpetrator was arrested while driving a gray Nissan Sentra at the intersection of West 144th Street and Adam Clayton Boulevard in Harlem. He was taken to the city’s 32nd precinct for questioning.
Grafton is being charged with five counts of attempted murder for entering Rottenberg’s home-based synagogue, known as Rabbi Rottenberg’s Shul, located in the Forshay neighborhood in Monsey, on Saturday at about 10:30 p.m. and pulling out a machete, which he used to stab people.
US President Donald Trump called on the people of the United States to “come together to fight, confront, and eradicate the evil scourge of antisemitism” in the aftermath of the attack. “Melania and I wish the victims a quick and full recovery.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the event “an act of domestic terrorism.”
At a menorah-lighting ceremony in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sunday, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders condemned the attacks and called on Americans to say "no" to religious bigotry.
"My father came to this country at the age of 17 from Poland. He came to this country fleeing antisemitism and fleeing violence and fleeing terrible, terrible poverty," Sanders said.
"And that is the story of millions of people."
Sanders said that attack was another example of the need to stand up to hate.
"We're seeing people stabbed yesterday in New York City because they were Jewish. We are seeing people being assaulted because they are Muslim," he said.
"If there was ever a time in American history where we say 'no' to religious bigotry, this is the time."
Reuters contributed to this report.