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West Virginia leaders join Jewish community to combat nationwide surge of antisemitism



Antisemitic acts across the country have soared in the four weeks since the start of Israel’s war against Hamas. Monday, efforts in Wheeling and Charleston were aimed at combating unlawful acts of hate and improving hate crime reporting.

The FBI and West Virginia’s two U.S. attorneys partnered with the American Jewish Committee and Jewish community leaders for training in response to rising antisemitism.

Incidents are up about 400% compared to a year ago nationwide. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia Will Thompson spoke with Eyewitness News about the recent developments.

“We actually planned this many months ago” Thompson said. “I think it’s become more relevant with the events that happened on Oct. 7.”

The training stressed understanding, responding and preventing hate crimes as concern in the Jewish community rises.

“It was both disheartening to know the dangers we face but it’s also heartening to know there are so many people out there that want to make sure that people are safe and that hate is not part of America,” Rabbi Victor Urecki of Congregation B’nai Jacob explained.

An assistant U.S. attorney explained how federal authorities were able to use a variety of laws against a Northern Panhandle man who made threat against jurors and witnesses in the trial of an antisemitic terrorist who murdered people at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

The presentation indicated three major triggers for trouble include Jewish holidays, elections and violence in the Middle East.

The training stressed enhancing the understanding of the problem, identifying effective responses to hate crime incidents and empowering people to speak out.

While 40% of the world’s Jewish population lives in the United States, West Virginia’s population appears to be somewhere between 1,200 and 2,300 people.

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