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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release June 21, 1999


Tipper and I were deeply saddened to learn of the terrible fires that damaged three synagogues in Sacramento last week. Our thoughts and prayers are with the members of the Jewish community whose lives have been disrupted by this terrible crime.

The predawn attacks on Congregation B'nai Israel, Congregation Beth Shalom and Knesset Israel Torah Center were cowardly. They targeted the Jewish community of Sacramento, and hurt all citizens in California and across this nation in the process. Local law enforcement and national officials are working together to investigate these incidents, and they will bring those who perpetrated these terrible acts to justice.

Thousands of books and holy scriptures were destroyed in the fires. Your places of worship and learning lie charred in the aftermath of this terrible violence. But the history and culture of this community remain intact. The hopes and dreams of this community remain strong and defiant -- unyielding to the forces of an intolerant few. No hateful person or violent act can take that away.

Hate crimes can not be tolerated -- by anyone, anywhere. Last year, more than 8,000 hate crime incidents were reported in the United States -- almost one an hour. That is unacceptable. We must remember, in order to stop these terrible crimes from happening, we must band together as a national community -- as One America - to fight them. And now is the time for national leaders to take a stand against hate crimes and lead our nation in this movement. Together we can practice, and teach a different way of life -- one in which these terrible acts never happen.

Our diversity is a godsend for us, and the world of the 21st century. But it is also the potential for the old, haunting demons that are hard to root out of the human spirit. America's strength comes from its diversity, and our ability to recognize and celebrate the differences among us. Together, we must come together to recognize that diversity and, in doing so, make sure that what happened here last week never, ever, happens again.