Security Grant Program allows upgrade in protection during worship

Rep. Max Rose to ‘Post’: Security Grant Program would allow houses of worship ‘to upgrade their security infrastructure significantly.’

By
July 5, 2019 01:16
4 minute read.
Security Grant Program allows upgrade in protection during worship

Police near the "Tree of Life" synagogue in Pittsburgh. (photo credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON – Following passage of the bipartisan Nonprofit Security Grant Program in the House, which funds security improvements for at-risk religious institutions, Rep. Max Rose (D-NY), hosted a grant workshop this week with government officials.

Some 50 faith-based leaders from South Brooklyn and Staten Island attended the event, which was aimed to explain how they could benefit from the $75 million approved for the program, which is within the Department of Homeland Security, for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations that are at risk of a terrorist attack.

“We have seen skyrocketing acts of hate on our religious institutions,” Rose told The Jerusalem Post. “No religion is immune from it, whether it’s synagogues, mosques [or] churches. And we have to forcefully step up and equip our faith-based institutions with the resources that they need to protect themselves.”

He added that the workshop was crucial because people are often not aware of the services and programs available to them. “We sometimes do a good job of building these programs, and a horrible job of connecting people with them. And that’s what this event was all about. Not only to educate people about the program, but to send them the message that we are there for them every step of the way to facilitate their grant opportunities. It is unfortunate that we have to have programs like this – it really is. It’s a sad day for America that people can no longer be praying in peace and security.”

Rose, who is chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism, told the Post that the grants program is not designed to fund a permanent security guard at houses of worship. “But it can [fund] things like setting up the camera system. It can do things like setting up lighting. There’s also a cyber component. There’s an education component. There’s an outreach component. Often, some institutions don’t even have a proper lock. They don’t have proper alarm systems. [These institutions] can really use this one-time capital infusion to upgrade their security infrastructure significantly.”

ASKED WHAT the next step in fighting hate crimes should be, Rose said that the massacre at the New Zealand mosque four months ago, which was broadcast live on Facebook, is an example of a problem in social media that needs to be addressed.

“We have to establish a standard and hold these social media companies accountable to it,” he said. “They’re not spending enough money on their counterterrorism screening, and there’s not nearly enough cross-organizational coordination within the social media sector. I have held several hearings on this matter, and we’re going to continue to push them – whether through public advocacy or legislation – to make sure that our social media platforms are not havens for radicals and are not havens for radicalization.”

Speaking about the state of antisemitism in New York, Rose said that “It’s in bad shape... We have seen acts of antisemitism skyrocket: Over 50%. And I am not going to sit back and act as if this is not a problem.”

In recent weeks, former member of the New York State Assembly Dov Hikind and others called on Rose to join the call to remove Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Hikind organized a rally in New York ten days ago and called for Rose to “do the right thing.”

“I can deal with the antisemites,” Hikind said at the rally. “I can’t deal with decent people like Congressman Rose, who is being silent and not speaking up and not standing up.”

When asked about that rally, Rose responded: “Dov Hikind? I’ve never heard of him.

“I am proud of what I have done over and over and over again – as the youngest Jewish member of Congress – to fight, to protect Israel, to support Israel and to defend our communities against antisemitism,” he continued. “And I’ve done that with courage, and I’ve done that proudly. I have fought for this country in uniform and out. And I’ll continue to do it irrespective of what some failed hack of a former politician wants to say about me.”

He spoke about his service in Afghanistan and the way it shaped his view on Israel: “When you serve in a country where public safety doesn’t exist – where national security doesn’t exist, that has been in perpetual war – you realize the tenuous situation that Israel has found itself in [since its] conception. When you realize the miracle [that the state is], and you realize that it is not guaranteed, you realize that it’s not inevitable and you realize that it must be preserved.

“I’ll continue to fight both in support of Israel, but also in support of American values, [which] center around freedom... acceptance [and] inclusion – much of which I certainly did not find it in Afghanistan,” Rose said.


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