-Photo: Robert Cohen

-Photo: Robert Cohen

Vandals topple graves at a Jewish cemetery in Missouri.

In a recent anti-Semitic attack, vandals tipped over and damaged around 200 Jewish headstones at a cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri suburb. The attack has left the Jewish community shocked and nervous.

The attacks were said to have taken place somewhere between the final hours of Sunday and the early hours of Monday at University City’s Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery. There have been no arrests so far. Investigators are still trying to figure out if the incident was a hate crime or a plain act of vandalism. However, the Jewish community still feels threatened, according to Karen Aroesty, Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League.

Aroesty claimed tensions were running high and that the recent attacks hurt the loved ones of the people buried there, implying the creation of an emotionally charged scenario.

The police are currently looking at surveillance camera footage to identify the suspects. Though the headstones were tipped over and broken, there was no presence of graffiti.

Religious groups and politicians came together to show support for the region’s Jewish community after the incident was reported.

Eric Greitens, Governor of Missouri and also a Jew, uploaded a Facebook status describing the act as “cowardly” and “despicable.” The Governor also requested volunteers to join him in clearing up the mess created in the cemetery due to the incident.

Criticism against the act also came from Missouri chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Azhar Azeez, President for the ISNA, issued a statement encouraging members of his own community to reach out to the Jewish community and show their solidarity. He even requested they support the Jewish community in rebuilding the cemetery.

The cemetery, according to a Facebook post, will soon be publishing names of the buried whose headstones were damaged in the attack.

A moment of silence was held by the Missouri House of Representatives in Jefferson City as a response to the violent incident. Representative Stacey Newman, a Democrat, after speaking to colleagues, ensured that the body empathized with the Jewish community in St. Louis.

The recent incident follows a series of anti-Semitic attacks involving Jewish community centers.

The new administration is being blamed for the recent rise in anti-Semitism around the country, especially after it was found that many right-wing extremists supported Trump. However, Trump has issued a statement denouncing the recent attack and anti-Semitism.

On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence visited the cemetery and helped clean up, stating “There is no place in America for hatred or acts of prejudice or violence or anti-Semitism.”

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