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Virginia leaders create Antisemitism Task Force to monitor rise of hate crimes: ‘First of its kind’


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Authorities in Virginia have created a "first of its kind" Antisemitic Task Force dedicated to monitoring and combating antisemitic actions across the state.

Attorney General Jason Miyares announced the Task Force on Wednesday, during Virginia Jewish Advocacy Day, alongside Governor Glenn Youngkin, Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-Sears and local members of the Jewish community, according to WAVY.

"Antisemitism is the oldest and most sustained form of bigotry known to mankind," Miyares said. "American Jews have dealt with horrifying antisemitic discrimination and violence, and it continues today. My Antisemitism Task Force will help our office monitor, combat, and educate Virginians about hate against Jewish people."

According to Miyares, the Task Force is the first of its kind across the country and came amid an effort from the governor to eliminate hate-based intolerance.

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On his first day in office, Gov. Youngkin ordered the creation of a Commission to Combat Antisemitism. Later that year, Youngkin said Virginia saw nearly 350 reports of antisemitic acts.

"Hatred, intolerance, and antisemitism have no place in Virginia and I appreciate the committee's hard work to highlight and grapple with these matters," said Gov. Youngkin. "We have challenges in Virginia and we must work together to address them. For Virginia to be the best place to live, work, and raise a family, the Commonwealth must welcome people of all faiths, ethnicities, and backgrounds with open arms."

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The Commission released a report in Dec. 2022, calling for increased education about the Holocaust and Judaism and increased hate crime reporting.

"During Governor Youngkin’s first year in office, I have respected his desire to oppose divisiveness in varied forms and instead find moments to bring people together to make Virginia a better place," said Commission Chairman Jeffrey Rosen. "This is one of those moments, and it is my hope that the work of our 15-member Commission speaks through this report. The recommendations of the Commission to Combat Antisemitism represent a timely and comprehensive way for Virginia to fight this form of hatred and bigotry head-on."

"Rising antisemitism in America and Virginia must not be tolerated. To this end, the Commission’s work will provide valuable tools to combat hate and achieve the vision of freedom from persecution set out by our Founding Fathers," said Commission Vice-Chairman Arthur Sandler. "It has been an honor to serve the Commonwealth on the Commission and I look forward to working with Governor Youngkin to combat antisemitism and hate in all forms."

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The new Task Force will initially include employees within the Attorney General’s office.

Additional leaders from the Jewish community will be appointed in the coming months.

Virginians are encouraged to report antisemitic discrimination to the Virginia Office of Civil Rights as religious discrimination is illegal under the Virginia Human Rights Act, Wavy reported. 

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