- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 23, 2017

U.S. and Israeli authorities confirmed the arrest Thursday of a 19-year-old Jewish Israeli man believed responsible for a recent series of bomb threats that targeted Jewish organizations and schools in the United States.

“Early this morning in Israel, the FBI and the Israeli National Police worked jointly to locate and arrest the individual suspected for threats to Jewish organizations across the United States and in other parts of the world,” the FBI said in a statement.

More than 166 bomb threats have been made against Jewish community centers and schools in the United States and Canada since the wave of threats began in January, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told the Associated Press the suspect’s motives were unclear but that he is “the guy who was behind the JCC threats.”

The FBI declined to provide further details about the suspect. However, Israeli police said the man masked the origin of his phone calls and other communication with synagogues, Jewish schools, and community centers.

“He didn’t use regular phone lines. He used different computer systems so he couldn’t be backtracked,” Mr. Rosenfeld said.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions confirmed the arrest Thursday, calling the threats “hate crimes against Jewish communities across our country.”

“The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the civil rights of all Americans, and we will not tolerate the targeting of any community in this country on the basis of their religious beliefs,” Mr. Sessions said in a statement. “I commend the FBI and Israeli National Police for their outstanding work on this case.”

It was unclear how many of the threats authorities believe the man could be responsible for.

Earlier this month, a former journalist was arrested and accused of making at least eight threats against Jewish community centers as part of an attempt to vilify his ex-girlfriend.

Juan Thompson, who had been fired from a publication for falsifying stories, is accused of making the false bomb threats and blaming his ex-girlfriend as the perpetrator. At the time, authorities said they believed he was only responsible for a small number of the string of threats.

While many Jewish organizations expressed relief over the news of an arrest in the case, the Anti-Defamation League cautioned that the Jewish community remains concerned about anti-Semitism in the United States.

“While the details of this crime remain unclear, the impact of this individual’s actions is crystal clear: These were acts of anti-Semitism. These threats targeted Jewish institutions, were calculated to sow fear and anxiety, and put the entire Jewish community on high alert,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. “Even though it appears that the main culprit behind the majority of these attacks has allegedly been identified, anti-Semitism in the U.S. remains a very serious concern.”

Officials at the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect said no sooner had news broke that the suspect was a Jewish man with dual Israel-U.S. citizenship, they began receiving a new onslaught of anti-Semitic messages.

“The theme of the anti-Semitic messages has been this: See, it’s your people, Jews, who were responsible,” said Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect. “Such vitriol requires us to respond further: Hate is hate, and our nation had the right to expect this administration to respond to hate with urgency every time.”

Mr. Goldstein condemned the use of the arrest as a launching point for more hateful attacks.

“To point to the religion of one depraved individual, and use that as a pretext for hate against an entire religion, is immoral and unacceptable, and those who engage in such arguments should be ashamed of their own prejudice,” he said.

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