Vandals topple dozens of headstones at Philadelphia Jewish cemetery

For the second time in a week, a Jewish cemetery in the US was vandalized and desecrated. 

Some 100 headstones were vandalized and toppled at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, overnight Saturday.

“It’s criminal. This is beyond vandalism,” said Northeast Detectives Capt. Shawn Thrush, as he walked the cemetery grounds, according to Philadelphia’s Inquirer. “It’s beyond belief.”

The vandalism was discovered by a man who had come to visit his father’s grave.

Tombstones at the cemetery date back at least to the mid-1800s.

The Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery is one of four graveyards located on each corner of an intersection. The three other cemeteries, which all appear to be Christian, were not desecrated. However, police maintain that the attack was an act of vandalism, not an anti-Semitic hate crime.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney offered condolences to the families and said police would find and charge those responsible.

“Hate is not permissible in Philadelphia,” he said in a statement Sunday. “I encourage Philadelphians to stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters and to show them that we are the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.”

“We are appalled to see the desecration of another Jewish cemetery. These attacks need to end now,” the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) tweeted. The ADL itself was a target of an anti-Semitic bomb scare last week.

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The ADL is offering $10,000 for an arrest and conviction in the case. The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 is offering an additional $3,000 to the reward.

The incident at Mount Carmel prompted support from the national Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA.

“We are deeply troubled by these rising and ongoing attacks on our Jewish sisters and brothers, and members from our Philadelphia chapter are en route to assist in clean up,” said Nasim Rehmatullah, the organization’s national vice president, according to the Inquirer.

Raphael Caroline launched a crowd-funding project to raise funds to repair the damage. He surpassed his $10,000 goal within 10 hours.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon tweeted that the incident was “shocking and a source of worry.” Israel has “full confidence” that authorities will “catch and punish culprits,” he added.

This act of vandalism comes just a week after the Chesed Shel Emet cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri, was desecrated in a similar manner.

Vice President Mike Pence, who visited the St. Louis cemetery, condemned the desecration as a “vile act of vandalism,” saying “there’s no place in America for hatred or acts of prejudice or violence or anti-Semitism.”

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News