Up to 100 gravestones vandalized at Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia

Police say 75-100 headstones desecrated at Mount Carmel Cemetery as Israeli foreign ministry calls attack shocking and a source of worry

Police said on Sunday that more than 100 headstones had been vandalized at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia.

A man visiting Mount Carmel Cemetery in the Wissinoming section of the city called police at 9.40am on Sunday to report that three of his relatives headstones had been knocked over and damaged.

The cemetery was inspected and approximately 100 additional headstones were found to be knocked over apparently sometime after dark Saturday, a police spokeswoman said in a statement.

A criminal mischief-institutional vandalism investigation will be conducted by the police north-east detectives division, she said.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia lists Mount Carmel as a Jewish cemetery in the north-eastern part of the city.

The damage came less than a week after a Jewish cemetery in suburban St Louis reported more than 150 headstones vandalized, many of them tipped over.

After the vandalism in Missouri, Governor Eric Greitens wrote in a Facebook post: Anyone who would seek to divide us through an act of desecration will find instead that they unite us in shared determination. From their pitiful act of ugliness, we can emerge even more powerful in our faith.

The Missouri incident prompted a response from Donald Trump, who had been criticised by Jewish groups and political opponents for a lack of comment on an increase in threats against Jewish community centers around the US and a White House statement to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day which did not mention Jews or Judaism.

Hillary Clintons presidential running mate, the Virginia senator Tim Kaine, likened that omission to Holocaust denial.

Speaking at the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Tuesday, Trump said: Antisemitism is horrible and its going to stop and it has to stop.

The antisemitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are a painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.

Trump said he would speak out against antisemitism whenever I get a chance.

Vice-President Mike Pence also condemned this vile act of vandalism and those who perpetrate it in the strongest possible terms after the Missouri incident.

Questions regarding Trumps attitude to antisemitism and possible antisemitic views among his aides and supporters have persisted since he announced his run for the White House.

During the campaign, Trump attracted criticism for tweeting an alleged antisemitic image he denied any intent to do so but deleted and replaced the image in question and running ads that critics said employed timeworn antisemitic tropes.

Some observers pointed to the influence of advisers including campaign chairman and now senior White House counsel Steve Bannon, the former head of the alt-right Brietbart website who was accused by his ex-wife of making antisemitic remarks, an accusation he denied.

Trumps son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is Jewish. The presidents daughter, Ivanka, converted when she married.

In Philadelphia, Aaron Mallin told WPVI-TV that he discovered the damage when he went to visit his fathers grave. He called it very disheartening and said he hoped it wasnt intended as an antisemitic attack.

Im hoping it was maybe just some drunk kids, he said. But the fact that theres so many, it leads one to think it could have been targeted.

An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon, called the damage reported in Philadelphia shocking and a source of worry, although he added that he had full confidence that authorities in the US would be able to catch and punish those responsible.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/26/jewish-cemetery-vandalized-philadelphia

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