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Vandalism in Philadelphia Jewish Cemetery Thought To Be Hate Crime

Last week, the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (a primarily Jewish cemetery), endured an extreme amount of vandalism. Over 560 headstones were damaged, some of which were knocked over and completely destroyed.  To make matters even worse, this anti-semitic act was discovered by a man who has three different relatives who were buried in the cemetery and whose headstones were defaced. “Heartbreaking” does not even begin to describe this event that has occurred. 

Courtesy: Haaretz 

 

The response to this crime was immediate and strong; many locals have already begun volunteering to clean up and repair whatever the criminals ruined. Not only that, but a variety of different people have offered money to anyone who can give information that will lead to the arrest and conviction of whoever committed this crime- the reward is over $140,000 at this time. This violent destruction has led officials to believe that new security measures must happen, such as extra cameras and lighting and more patrols being added to the night staff for the cemetery. However, should such changes even need to take place? Should we have to be fearful that such sacred places will be vandalized?

 Worrying about anti-semitic crimes unfortunately does not end here – recently there have been over 100 bomb threats called in to different Jewish Community Centers throughout the country leaving men, women and children being forced to evacuate such places, for the sake of their own safety. While thankfully none of these threats have been ­­carried out, it is still concerning and completely unacceptable that they are occurring in the first place. Whoever is behind not only these threats, but also the acts such as the vandalism of Mount Carmel Cemetery, needs to be found and put to a stop. Generating such strong feelings of dismay and desolation for people within their own community is inadmissible.

This issue needs to be a top priority and while the anti-semitic criminals behind these offenses are being investigated, many feel as though the government is not doing enough. While President Trump has made statements regarding the recent threats and felonies, people want more done and rightfully so. Many have proposed that departments such as the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security should get involved in order to put a stop to these hate crimes. It is vital for whoever can help stop these occurrences to put everything they have into doing so.

The lack of effort coming from the government combined with the hate coming from these criminals would be enough to bring anyone down, however it is promising that instead, it’s bringing people together. The response from individuals throughout different communities has been hard to ignore. People are refusing to just standby and instead are taking charge and making sure their voice is heard all while coming together to form an even stronger union. As a young, Jewish collegiate, I am completely shocked and disturbed to see such things taking place in our world, but I still have hope for the future. As difficult as it is to see so much hate being spread throughout our country, it is comforting to see so many people fighting back with love and support and refusing to let hate win.

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