Bomb threats, cemetery desecration further wave of anti-Semitic hate crimes

The series of anti-Semitic incidents that have marred 2017 are only getting worse

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published February 21, 2017 1:35PM (EST)

 (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)
(AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

The wave of anti-Semitic hate crime that has swept through America in 2017 has had some new installments: the desecration of a cemetery in Missouri and nearly a dozen bomb threats to Jewish community centers across the country.

The Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, Missouri, was vandalized on Thursday when dozens of headstones were knocked over or damaged. Although local police suspect that an organization was behind the crime (as opposed to a single person), they have not officially stated whether this is the case or whether they consider it to be a hate crime.

What almost certainly counts as hate crimes, though, were the bomb threats phoned into Jewish community centers on Monday. These included threats in Albuquerque, New Mexico; New York; Birmingham, Alabama; Buffalo and Amherst, New York; Chicago; Cleveland; Houston; Nashville, Tennessee; St. Paul, Minnesota; Tampa, Florida; and Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.

The bomb threats occurred one day after Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, called on President Donald Trump to publicly denounce the new wave of anti-Semitism.

"The president helps set the tone for a country," Hoenlein said from Jerusalem. "I’m hopeful that what he said about . . .  addressing hate and racism of all kinds in American society will be translated into clear action."

Ivanka Trump, daughter of President Trump and a practicing Jew herself, took to Twitter to denounce the attacks.

It has not been established whether the wave of anti-Semitic incidents are the work of a larger organization, a small group of people or even a single individual. Similarly, it is unclear whether there is any correlation between Trump's recent election and the series of incidents.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Anti-semitism Donald Trump Ivanka Trump Jewish Community Center Bomb Threats