In the aftermath of an antisemitic incident at an Oakland County synagogue earlier this month, Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) questioned officials with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) about the need to proactively address such threats.
Slotkin, who chairs the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism, spoke to officials during a committee meeting Tuesday about the December 2 incident at Temple Beth El in Bloomfield Hills in which a Dearborn man harassed parents and children, making violent threats and using racial slurs toward security staff. The man, Hassan Chokr, was arrested two days later and charged with ethnic intimidation.
Slotkin questioned why DHS officials were not taking part in a meeting held Wednesday night for area residents in which law enforcement officials from the local, state and federal level were present.
“The FBI will definitely be there, our Attorney General will definitely be there, the ADL will definitely be there,” said Slotkin. “Is the Department of Homeland Security not part of that conversation? If you want to be relevant and be in the game, it’s not just about handing someone a piece of paper or a finished intel piece, kind of to show that you’ve done the work, but it’s to push it out and make it available to a wider audience.”
Slotkin further questioned why as chairwoman of the subcommittee, she has to go to non-governmental agencies to learn about the Proud Boys, classified a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which she noted was a “real problem” in her district where raids occurred in the arrest of those plotting to kidnap and assassinate Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
“So it’s a real thing for us on the ground,” said Slotkin, “but the government agencies, I understand it’s a sensitive issue, but I couldn’t feel more strongly about the importance of you all getting left and right limits, being really clear about it, and then coming up to proactively talk to us about this issue because no one wants to go after someone for free speech. But when you’ve had double the incidence of anti-semitism in my state, the question remains, ‘What is my government doing to help my population?’ So I would just put that on your radar. Having it in your back pocket is not as useful as being at the table.”
Slotkin, who is Jewish, later posted to social media that Temple Beth-El, where the incident occurred, is the same synagogue where she had her bat mitzvah & her brother attended pre-school, adding that with the threat of antisemitic violence growing, “it’s critical that DHS lean in, closely monitor these risks & work with local officials to effectively respond.”