Rep. Grace Meng’s bill to make desecration of cemeteries overseas a violation of religious freedom was passed by the Senate. It now goes to the president for signing.
The legislation would amend the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to include vandalizing cemeteries as one of several crimes against freedom of religion.
Under the bill, the United States could impose sanctions on countries that obstruct such freedom. They include cutting foreign aid, public condemnation, canceling official visits, imposing trade sanctions and prohibiting import and export agreements.
In proposing the legislation, Meng said it would combat religiously motivated vandalism of cemeteries “and also prevent developers from building over cemeteries, a new and emerging threat in places where there are no Jewish communities left to protect burial grounds.”
Rabbi Abba Cohen, vice president, Agudath Israel of America, a national Jewish group in Washington, DC, hailed the bill’s passage, saying such desecrations “are stark reminders that the scourge of anti-Semitism remains a danger and a threat.”