Against the backdrop of the pro-Hamas demonstrations and acts of antisemitism that have swept across the globe since the terrorist group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin issued an executive directive on Tuesday aimed at combating “increasing incidents and threats of antisemitism and anti-religious and ethnic-based bigotry and violence” in his state.
The directive — which can be read in full HERE — instructs law enforcement to increase information exchange and resource coordination on potential antisemitic acts through a specialized situation room and expedite grants to organizations facing religious or ethnicity-based persecution.
It also empowers the Virginia Fusion Center at the Department of State Police to operate at a heightened state to quickly identify threats against houses of worship and faith-based communities.
Furthermore, it asks Virginia’s colleges and universities to submit updated comprehensive safety plans to the Center for School and Campus Safety and also increases collaboration between the Department of Education and our K-12 schools and institutions of higher education on safety measures for students. The order tells all school divisions to promote awareness of resources promoting the safety of their students, especially Jewish students, during this time of unrest globally.
“Hatred, intolerance, and antisemitism have no place in Virginia,” Governor Youngkin stated. “As Governor, the safety and security of all Virginians is my paramount concern. Virginia is the birthplace of the freedom of religion in America, and protecting the community centers and houses of worship of the Jewish people is paramount. But this commitment extends to all religions, including those of the Muslim faith, who are increasingly concerned about backlash.”
Governor Youngkin spoke about his directive in a CBS interview on Tuesday:
Other governors taking action against antisemitism this week included New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who visited Cornell University to show solidarity with the Jewish community there after it was targeted with explicit threats of violence, and Florida Governor Ron Desantis, who ordered public universities in his state to disband local chapters of the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) organization.