Jewish leaders condemn US bomb threats, grave vandalism
February 27, 2017
Jewish groups and schools in 11 US states have reported bomb threats, a day after more than 100 gravestones at a Jewish cemetery were vandalized. The World Jewish Congress called the incident 'despicable and cowardly.'
The bomb threats, all of which appeared to be hoaxes, were received in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia, the JCC Association of North America said on Monday.
The JCC Association called for "swift and concerted action" from police to catch the purportators who it said "were trying to instill anxiety and fear in our communities."
Second cemetery targeted
The threats happened barely a day after the second desecration of a Jewish cemetary in a week, after more than 100 gravestones at the Mount Carmel Jewish ceremony in northeastern Philadelphia were broken and overturned.
Local media said the damage was widespread and TV footage showed rows of headstones knocked down.
A week earlier, more than 150 headstones were damaged at a Jewish cemetery in St Louis, Missouri. In an act of solidarity, Muslim groups raised tens of thousands of dollars to help repair the cemetary and said some of the funds would be used towards the latest incident in Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said police were doing everything possible to find those responsible, and a $10,000 reward was offered for information leading to the vandals.
Within hours of the discovery, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia began raising funds to repair and restore the headstones.
Meanwhile, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) called on US authorities to "treat these acts with utmost severity,"
WJC President Ronald Launder described the two cemetery incidents as "chillingly reminiscent of the pogroms the Jewish people suffered for centuries in Eastern Europe and in the years of the Nazi rise to power."
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said that it had documented 90 threats against against Jewish community centers and schools this year, including at least 20 bomb threats on Monday.
"While this latest round of bomb threats to Jewish community centres and day schools across the country again appears to not be credible, we are nonetheless urging all Jewish institutions to review their procedures," ADL chief executive Jonathan Greenblatt said.