WASHINGTON, D.C. — Six months after the deadly Oklahoma City bombing, B'nai B'rith International presented the people of Oklahoma with $515,000 for disaster relief at a Capitol Hill ceremony last week.
Members of Congress and B'nai B'rith officials used the event, held Thursday of last week, to call for swift passage of antiterrorism legislation still pending in Congress.
Religious leaders, rescue workers, members of Congress and Attorney General Janet Reno gathered at the ceremony, which was hosted by Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.) and B'nai B'rith to remember the victims of the bombing and to honor the heroes who worked to save lives and heal survivors' pain.
"These brave men and women came from around the country, leaving their families for weeks at a time. They worked long hours under difficult, life-threatening conditions," said B'nai B'rith international president Tommy Baer of the rescue workers.
B'nai B'rith presented Oklahoma's congressional delegation with a symbolic check representing over $515,000 in contributions — funds B'nai B'rith collected from more than 10,000 donors across the country.
Baer joined congressional leaders in asking the House of Representatives to support anti-terrorism legislation already approved by the Senate.
"The bombing of the Murrah Building taught us — and the sabotage of the Amtrak train in Arizona confirmed — that the cancer of violence has taken root here in the United States," Baer said. "We have learned that the tools of yesterday do not suit the radicalism of today."
He urged Congress to "pass this bill before more innocent American lives are lost."
Antiterror bills before Congress would ban fund-raising by terrorist groups, would beef up jail sentences for convicted terrorists and give federal agencies more tools to investigate terror suspects.
Reno called on Americans to "speak out against divisiveness" and support antiterrorism efforts.