Another Jewish cemetery has been defiled and vandalized, and this time, it’s one of the world’s largest in America’s biggest city.
According to CNN, five headstones were toppled at the Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, and law enforcement is currently investigating whether the act was intentional and whether it might constitute a hate crime. This latest vandalism comes on the heels of similar incidents in St. Louis and Philadelphia, as well as a slew of recent bomb threats toward Jewish Community Centers across the U.S.
The dual specters of Jewish cemetery vandalism and bomb threats against JCCs have sparked national coverage, and fears over what appears to be a rising tide of anti-Semitism. On Friday, one person was formally charged with making at least eight of the more than 100 bomb threats—Juan Thompson, a former reporter for the Intercept who was fired for fabricating stories in early 2016. He’s allegedly believed to be a “copycat,” however, as federal investigators reportedly don’t believe he’s involved with many of the more technologically sophisticated bomb threats they’ve been investigating for weeks.
New York City Councilman David Greenfield tweeted out images of the vandalism at Washington Cemetery on Sunday morning. Greenfield has been drawing attention to these anti-Semitic threats for a while, notably the rise in such incidents within New York City. According to the NYPD, compared to the first two months of 2016, anti-Semitic incidents in the city have spiked by 94 percent to start 2017.
Over 40 tombstones knocked over at Washington Cemetery in Borough Park, Brooklyn. This is one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in world. pic.twitter.com/DuYZDyL5qv— David G. Greenfield (@NYCGreenfield) March 5, 2017
The incidents have sparked calls for President Donald Trump to more forcefully denounce bigotry and racial hatred, which he briefly did at the start of his joint congressional address earlier this week.
It hasn’t just been American Jews who’ve felt the weight of a rise in racist sentiments recently. The start of 2017 has also seen several instances of violence against Muslim-Americans, as well as people falsely believed by their attackers to be Muslim or of Middle Eastern descent. The latter example is what happened at a bar in Olathe, Kansas last month, when a gunman killed two Indian men he allegedly believed to be Iranian, and the former is apparent in the multiple mosque bombings and arsons that have occurred in the past several months.
Also, while it didn’t happen in America, the grisly Quebec mosque shooting also stands out as a prominent example. Six Muslims were slain in that attack, allegedly at the hands of a gunman who professed right-wing, anti-Islam, and pro-Trump views on social media. Notably, while Trump reportedly called Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau to express his condolences after the attack, he has never publicly acknowledged the shooting or its victims, even more than a month later.
But even amid such hateful behavior, there are some heartening signs of solidarity and support; following the mass vandalizing of the Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, Muslim activists raised tens of thousands of dollars to help clean up and repair the damage.