NE Det Capt. Shawn Thrush toured Jewish cemetery where 75-100 headstones were toppled. "It's beyond belief," he said pic.twitter.com/K0XeBzSf9A— Stephanie Farr (@FarFarrAway) February 26, 2017
Less than a week after unidentified vandals knocked over more than 100 gravestones at a historic Jewish cemetery in Missouri, the residents of Philadelphia woke up to a similar site.
The authorities claim up to 100 tombstones were overturned and damaged at the Mount Carmel Cemetery in the Wissinoming neighborhood. The incident has been classified as institutional vandalism. However, investigators have been unable to establish a motive.
A man named Andrew Mallin discovered the destruction Sunday morning as he was visiting his father’s grave.
“It's just very disheartening that such a thing would take place,” he told a local ABC affiliate. “It’s just very heartbreaking.”
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf called the incident a “cowardly, disturbing act.”
The vandalism of Jewish headstones at a Phila. cemetery is a cowardly, disturbing act. We must find those responsible and hold accountable. https://t.co/6eM0G2tC4S— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) February 26, 2017
Meanwhile, as the CNN reports, Rabbi Shawn Zevit of Mishkan Shalom Synagogue said he and a member of his congregation counted “a few hundred” toppled over headstones on their visit to the cemetery.
The Anti-Defamation League is offering a reward worth $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible.
The incident comes at a time when anti-Semitic sentiments seem to be running high across the United States. Over the past month, at least 60 bomb threats were called into some 48 Jewish community centers in 26 U.S. states and one Canadian province.
UPDATE: President Donald Trump has officially responded to the anti-Semitic attacks and threats plaguing the nation.
In an interview with MSNBC, Trump mentioned a tour he had just taken in the National Museum of African American History and Culture, CNN reports.
"This tour was a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms," Trump said. "The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil."
The comments come after Trump failed to discuss the increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes during two news conferences last week, and after Hillary Clinton tweeted directly to Trump about the issue.
JCC threats, cemetery desecration & online attacks are so troubling & they need to be stopped. Everyone must speak out, starting w/ @POTUS.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 21, 2017
More than 100 gravestones were reportedly knocked over in the historic Jewish Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri, over the weekend.
While the local police are still determining if the incident was a hate crime, evidence has emerged the vandalism was the work of “some organization” and not an individual or an accident.
However, the destruction of the gravestones is just the latest in the wave of suspected anti-Semitic incidents recorded in the United States over the past month.
On Feb. 20, at least 10 Jewish community centers were targeted with bomb threats — for the fourth time in nearly five weeks. In fact, 60 bomb threats were reportedly called into some 48 Jewish community centers in 26 U.S. states and one Canadian province.
"I've been in the business for 20-plus years, and this is unprecedented," Paul Goldenberg, national director of the Secure Community Network, told CNN. "It's more methodical than meets the eye."
American Jews are legitimately concerned about their safety and, so far, here’s what President Donald Trump has said to calm their fears:
On Feb. 15, during Trump’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a reporter mentioned rising anti-Semitism in the country.
Trump’s response: “We’re honored by the victory we’ve had.”
On Feb. 16, during the president’s first solo — and colossally bizarre — (anti-)media press conference, a Jewish reporter reiterated the uptick in anti-Semitism in the U.S.
Trump’s response: “Sit down,” followed by, “I am the least anti-Semitic person.”
During the same presser, another reporter repeated the Jewish reporter’s questions, adding how some of the anti-Semitic attacks are being carried out in Trump’s name.
"Some of it is written by our opponents,” the business mogul replied. “You do know that? Do you understand that? You don't think anybody would do a thing like that?"
His answers were not only incoherent but they were also non-answers.
Even if he didn’t have a detailed response to the reporters’ questions, here’s what Trump could’ve simply said: We are aware of the situation. We will do whatever it takes to root out the menace of anti-Semitism in our country.
But then again, Trump is not particularly known for eloquence or compassion or ever doing the right thing.
But his refusal to provide the American Jewish community any kind of assurance for their safety is not only alarming, it is also potentially life-threatening.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Tom Gannam