WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden marked the one-year anniversary of the deadly shooting at a synagogue in Poway, California, with a proposal to add protections for Jews and other targets of hate attacks.
“These are acts of terrorism, plain and simple,” Biden said Monday in a statement to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “They are bound together by the common thread of perpetrators using fear and violence to undermine individuals’ ability to freely exercise their faith.”
Biden’s three-point plan would increase the $90 million the Department of Homeland Security now hands out for securing nonprofit institutions by “multiples.”
“Upon taking office, Biden will convene the faith-based community with DHS to identify an appropriate funding allocation,” said the plan attached to Biden’s statement.
The plan’s second point would make prosecuting hate crimes a priority for the Justice Department and would seek legislation that increases penalties for attacks on religious institutions. Hate crime legislation already increases penalties for crimes committed with a motive of racism or prejudice.
The third point is a proposal to convene faith communities to consider “whole of society” reforms that would address hate attacks, including improving information sharing among law enforcement agencies, improving mental health care as a means of inhibiting the violence and demanding that “social media and technology platforms do more to root out toxic extremist content.”
Biden, now the presumptive Democratic nominee for the presidency, likened the plan in his statement to his proposals to reduce gun violence should he be elected. He also said President Trump bore responsibility for the spike in violent attacks.
“He has fanned the flames of bigotry and racism for political gain, and made a moral equivalence between those perpetuating hate in our country, and those standing against it,” Biden said.
Trump equivocated in condemning the neo-Nazi perpetrators of deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, but has since condemned antisemitism. His administration has rolled back programs tracking white supremacists and then restored some of them.
Trump last year signed an executive order tackling antisemitism, but it has been employed since then in tackling leftist anti-Israel activity on campus.