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Florida Lawmakers, Faith Leaders Hold Roundtable On Confronting Hatred, Anti-Semitism

DAVIE (CBSMiami) - It was a meeting called with a new sense of urgency since anti-Semitic attacks have been on the rise around the county.

"We've had multiple violent attacks take place against Jews in this country and it's unacceptable because it has reached what I believe is an explosive proportion," said Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Wasserman Schultz along with fellow Florida Congressman Ted Deutch led a discussion with South Florida faith leaders from synagogues, churches, and mosques at the Jewish Federation of Broward County on Tuesday. It was a roundtable aimed at stemming the tide of hate against all groups but not losing sight of the particular threat the Jewish community is now facing in light of several recent attacks on the east coast.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, there have been more 6,700 incidents of extremism or anti-Semitic attacks from 2017-2018, a record high. Even in South Florida, the risk is real.

"There was actually a slight decrease in the number of anti-Semitic incidents but what was most disturbing is that there was actually an increase in anti-Semitic assaults, so if you have to pick, what's better vandalism vs attacks on people," said Dave Barkey, with the Anti-Defamation League.

Congressman Deutch argued the threat should not be politicized.

"The impact that has on our community has to heighten the alert for our community and we should never have to wait until there is an attack on the community here to respond, we need to do a better job at being together and not allowing anyone to make this about politics this is about hatred and how to confront it and marginalize it and prevent it from spreading," he said.

Both lawmakers said they would take the discussion Tuesday to Washington, Wasserman-Schultz said is now working on legislation to address the role of social media in inciting attacks.

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