Philadelphia Cemetery Vandalized In Wave Of Anti-Semitic Attacks Jewish cemeteries in Pennsylvania and Missouri have been hit by vandalism in recent weeks, but it's unclear if the attacks are the work of a few individuals or part of a larger problem.
NPR logo

Philadelphia Cemetery Vandalized In Wave Of Anti-Semitic Attacks

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/517563165/517563166" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Philadelphia Cemetery Vandalized In Wave Of Anti-Semitic Attacks

Philadelphia Cemetery Vandalized In Wave Of Anti-Semitic Attacks

Philadelphia Cemetery Vandalized In Wave Of Anti-Semitic Attacks

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/517563165/517563166" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Jewish cemeteries in Pennsylvania and Missouri have been hit by vandalism in recent weeks, but it's unclear if the attacks are the work of a few individuals or part of a larger problem.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

There were more bomb threats leading to more evacuations today at Jewish schools and community centers and at least a dozen states. Jewish leaders have a term for these phone calls - telephone terrorism. And over the weekend, a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia was vandalized. NPR's Tom Gjelten reports on this surge in anti-Semitic attacks.

TOM GJELTEN, BYLINE: The FBI and other law enforcement agencies are scrambling to figure out who's behind these threats and acts of vandalism. They're not yet able to say whether it's a few people copying each other or getting a kick out of the attention their threats get or whether it's something larger. So far, no bombs have been found at any of the threatened locations, but Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, says that doesn't make any difference.

JONATHAN GREENBLATT: Because as this pattern has continued to unfold, if we fail to address it, it will continue to terrorize a large segment of the Jewish community.

GJELTEN: White House Spokesman Sean Spicer today said President Trump continues to condemn these and any other forms of anti-Semitic and hateful acts in the strongest terms. But the ADL's Greenblatt is not satisfied.

GREENBLATT: The children evacuated from their schools, the elderly individuals wheeled out of their care programs, the relatives of loved ones whose graves have been defiled - something is terribly wrong, and we need more than words.

GJELTEN: The ADL today put out yet another security advisory to Jewish institutions around the country. Nathan Diament from the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America says his organization is in what he calls a prevention and protection mode.

NATHAN DIAMENT: There's no way we can from our side, you know, stop the threats from coming in. We have to talk about, what are the best practices in terms of how you react to these situations? And we have to hope that the law enforcement agencies can as quickly as possible be able to catch the perpetrators and stop the threats from coming in.

GJELTEN: It's hard to say precisely why anti-Semitism seems to have been revived. Some say bigots have been emboldened by the coarse rhetoric heard at rallies during the presidential campaign. Another possible factor is the impact of social media. The ADL's Jonathan Greenblatt says Twitter and Facebook have allowed haters to connect with each other more than they could in the past. Tom Gjelten, NPR News, Washington.

[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: A previous version of the transcript misspelled Nathan Diament's last name as Diamant.]

Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Correction Feb. 28, 2017

A previous version of the transcript misspelled Nathan Diament's last name as Diamant.