Threats towards Jewish communities in America such as bomb threats and vandalism continue to increase since the beginning of January 2017, resulting in more than 100 threatened Jewish facilities.
Late at night, on March 14, an email was sent to the St. Louis Jewish Community Center located in Missouri, stating that a bomb near the premise will soon explode. The FBI was called to look into the threat, but the person behind the email was not found.
This recent incident was the second bomb threat toward the St. Louis Jewish Community Center this year. Fortunately, both incidents were announced as a hoax and no one was injured.
St. Louis Executive Steve Stenger said, “Continued threats and harassment toward our Jewish community cannot be tolerated.”
On March 7, the Solomon Schechter Day School in Newton, Massachusetts received a phone call declaring that a bomb inside the school would go off. Grades kindergarten to third had to be immediately evacuated until they received an “all-clear” sign from local police.
On the same day, the MetroWest Jewish Day School in Farmingham, Massachusetts also received a bomb threat. The call described a bomb made from a pressure-cooker that would cause great damage. The Farmingham police believe that both of the phone calls to Solomon Schechter Day School and the MetroWest Jewish Day School were prerecorded by the same person. Unfortunately, no one has been found responsible.
Freshman Tara Levy said, “I am Jewish and I feel very uneasy about going to Jewish areas. Even going to the nearest synagogue is risky.”
Fed up with the increase in bomb threats toward Jewish community centers and schools, all 100 members of the U.S. Senate wrote a letter to the Trump administration asking them to “take swift action” concerning the safety of the Jewish community on March 7.
Press secretary Sean Spicer said, “We will continue to condemn them and look at ways in which we can stop them.”
Not only have Jewish schools and community centers been under attack, but also holy Jewish cemeteries have been targeted. On February 26, the Mount Carmel Jewish Cemetery was vandalized: about 75 to 100 tombstones were broken and flipped over. Many families who had relatives buried in Mount Carmel are devastated that someone would disrespect a place that was supposed to be “peaceful.”
Due to the increase in vandalism toward Jewish cemeteries, many cemeteries have strengthened their security measures. The New Light Cemetery in Lincolnwood, Illinois, a resting place for Holocaust survivors, has ordered new night-vision surveillance cameras in the hopes of capturing the one responsible for vandalism. They also established 24 hour staffing.
On January 28, the Jewish History Museum in Manhattan, New York received a bomb threat via email stating that there were two bombs placed inside the museum, but the threat turned out to be another hoax.
On March 3, Juan Thompson was arrested for making several threats toward Jewish facilities such as the Jewish History Museum. The FBI declared that the bomb threats were made under his ex-girlfriend’s name in order to intimidate her. Thomspon is not believed to be responsible for all of the bomb threats nationwide.
Freshman Devin Sherron said, “I think there has been a lot of hatred towards Jewish people in the past and today. It is terrible, but I am not sure if we can change that.”
Can these attacks directed mainly toward Jewish community centers, schools, and cemeteries be considered anti-Semitic?