Anti-Semitic attacks around the nation have spiked dramatically since the beginning of 2017.
As of February 27, 2017, the number of anti-Semitic attacks, in general, have catastrophically increased from previous years. 45 percent of JCC Association locations in the United States and Canada have received bomb threats in 2017. Jewish neighborhoods, community centers, and schools have not been spared amongst the recipients of threats as well as acts of vandalism.
The Muslim community in the United States has also been under attack. This has been shown by the recent wave of arson that has plagued mosques. Statistics from the FBI show that anti-Muslim hate crimes have risen by 67 percent from 2014 to 2015. Figures from the Council of American-Islam Relations indicate that mosques were primary targets for vandalism, arson and other forms of destruction 80 times in 2015. The cases of destruction are nearly a 400 percent increase in the number of these crimes from 2014. The anti-Semitic attacks were mainly through vandalism and bomb threats.
A Jewish cemetery in the Wissinoming section of Philadelphia was recently desecrated. Numerous headstones had been toppled over at the Mount Carmel Cemetery. A count by the police stated at least 100 headstones within the cemetery had either been toppled over or damaged. The act left members of the Jewish Community residing in Wissimoning both scared and devastated. This incident caused public outrage as people took to social media to prevent the express their condemnation of the hateful act. The FBI officially opened a civil rights investigation into the vandalism.
About a week before this incident, gravestones were found overturned and damaged in another cemetery in St. Louis. The Chesed Shel Emeth Jewish Cemetery was cleaned up soon after its attack. Notably, Vice President Mike Pence condemned the issue during a dinner with Jewish Republican Coalition members. He also volunteered with members of the community in cleaning up the cemetery.
On the same Sunday morning of Mount Carmel Cemetery’s desecration, residents of predominantly Jewish neighborhood found some of their cars vandalized. Members of the community woke up to the swastika symbol keyed onto some of their vehicles. This event happens after a large swastika symbol was found painted on the car of a resident in Boca Raton. Boca is a place where many of the holocaust’s survivors live. Additionally, two buildings in Seattle, Washington were found defaced with anti-Sematic graffiti. To Jews, the swastika is a symbol of the generations of murder and genocide of members of their community. It has profound psychological effects especially on senior citizens who survived those difficult times.
On February 24, residents of Tampa, Florida, had one of their area mosques almost burned down. Authorities reported that arson was the reason behind the fire. There were no casualties in the incident. This is the third fire a mosque in Tampa has experienced. Because of this early morning occurrence, morning prayers for those who worship at the mosque had to be held elsewhere. Afternoon prayers at the mosque were canceled. In January, a mosque in Victoria, Texas was destroyed by fire. Earlier in the same month, a mosque in Bellevue, Washington was set on fire. This fire in Washington led to the arrest of one man. However, arrests for the rest of these incidents are yet to be made. In July and August of 2016, five of Tampa’s mosques caught fire. Two out of those fires were as a result of arson, authorities later determined.
At least 16 Jewish community centers are the latest target of bomb threats from unknown sources. The new wave of threats brings up the total of centers that have received bomb threats across the country to 61. The bomb threats have caused a wave of shock and fear among members of the Jewish community. Additionally, Jewish Schools across the country also received bomb threats. A total of 89 bomb threats has been received across 30 states in the country. The threats have caused an interruption of learning for some members of the Jewish community. This is because the schools they attend were evacuated for the safety of students and staff. Despite regular learning having resumed in these institutions, fear remains within the members of the Jewish community.
There have been calls to end anti-Semitic attacks and Islamophobia in the country, especially on social media. These calls have significantly encouraged the unity of the Semitic community all over the United States.
- Jewish Telegraphic Agency -ADL offers reward for information about Philadelphia Jewish cemetery vandals
- Jewish Telegraphic Agency -Bomb threats hit at least 21 JCCs, Jewish day schools across country
- Huffington Post
- ABC News