Jewish cemetery vandalized in New York,
third case in two weeks
Send a link to a friend
[March 03, 2017]
By Jonathan Allen
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The vandalism of more
than a dozen headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Rochester is being
investigated by a New York hate crime task force, the third known case
of a Jewish cemetery desecration in the country in the last two weeks.
Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he ordered the
investigation at Waad Hakolel Cemetery given the wave of bomb threats
that later proved hoaxes targeting Jewish community centers and
vandalism at Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia and St. Louis.
U.S. President Donald Trump, a Republican, has condemned the threats and
attacks, although he has at times also questioned whether some
perpetrators might be opponents of his seeking to link his new
presidency with a rise in anti-Semitism.
Trump's election campaign last year drew support from some white
nationalists and right-wing groups, despite his disavowals of them.
Besides the toppling of headstones at the Rochester cemetery, images of
the deceased embedded on at least half a dozen headstones had been
scratched away, although it was not clear how long ago, said Karen Elam,
the director of community relations at the Jewish Federation of Greater
"It's clear vandalism," she said in a telephone interview after touring
the cemetery on Thursday afternoon to photograph the damage. "Any
vandalism of a Jewish cemetery is de facto anti-Semitism."
[to top of second column]
Michael Phillips, president of the non-profit organization that
oversees the cemetery, told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
newspaper that there was no proof the vandalization was a case of
anti-Semitism, citing the smaller scale of the damage in Rochester.
About 100 headstones were knocked over at a Jewish cemetery in
Philadelphia last weekend, and about 170 headstones were knocked
over in a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis.
Officials at the cemetery in Rochester did not return calls seeking
comment. In 2014, vandals toppled more than 40 headstones at another
Jewish cemetery near Rochester, but local police concluded the
vandalism was not motivated by anti-Semitism, the Democrat &
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by David Gregorio and Lisa
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.