New York unveils grant to combat anti-Semitism

New York state takes steps to combat spike in anti-Semitism and hate crimes.

Ben Ariel ,

Andrew Cuomo
Andrew Cuomo

New York state on Thursday took fresh steps to combat a spike in anti-Semitism and hate crimes, promising a $25 million grant to boost security and a $5,000 reward for information leading to arrests and convictions.

Governor Andrew Cuomo made the announcement after meeting dozens of Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders from across the state, according to the AFP news agency.

"With the recent explosion of anti-Semitism and hate crimes, it is more important than ever before that we do everything in our power to ensure the safety and equal treatment of all New Yorkers," Cuomo said.

"Any acts of bias or discrimination will be met with the full force of the law. New York is and always has been a place that celebrates diversity and religious tolerance," he added.

The moves comes amid a spike in hate crimes in New York. The New York Police Department said last week that hate crimes against Jews have more than doubled in New York City since the start of the new year from the same period in 2016.

56 hate crimes were reported from Jan. 1 to Feb. 12, with 28 of the incidents targeting Jews. In the same period last year, the total number of hate crimes was 31, with 13 targeting Jews.

Hate crimes also shot up in 2016 against Muslims, blacks, Latinos, Asians and the LGBT community, according to the statistics.

The $25 million grant program is designed to boost safety at schools and day-care centers considered at particular risk, by funding additional security measures and training needs.

The state is also expanding a toll-free hotline, set up last November, to allow people to report bias and discrimination by text message, according to AFP.

The authorities are also offering a $5,000 reward for any information leading to arrests and convictions for hate crimes, Cuomo's office said.

In addition to the violence, the Jewish Community Center Association of North America has recorded 69 bomb threat incidents at dozens of centers in 27 states and one Canadian province since the start of the year.

On Wednesday, a bomb threat targeted the Anti-Defamation League's national headquarters in Manhattan.

On Monday alone, nearly a dozen Jewish community centers in the United States received bomb threats that prompted evacuations.

All turned out to be hoaxes.