(JTA) – Hundreds of protesters attended a demonstration against hate crimes in Philadelphia following the recent vandalism at a Jewish cemetery and hate crimes across the country. The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia organized Thursday’s rally under the banner “Stand Against Hate” following the toppling of over 100 headstones that were discovered at the Mount Carmel Cemetery on Feb. 26. It was the second of three such incidents in the U.S. in less than two weeks. Naomi Adler, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, said she was “incredibly heartened by the outpouring of so many generations of people who are taking their time to come out in the cold to stand against hate.” No suspects have been arrested for the vandalism or bomb threats.
The suspected hate crime incidents were discovered as police in New York reported that antisemitic incidents during the first two months of 2017 were up 94 percent in New York City over the corresponding period last year, part of a 55 percent increase overall in the number of hate crimes.
In an interview published March 2 by the Forward, Abraham Foxman, the former longtime head of the Anti-Defamation League, said pressure on Trump to speak out was misguided, even though he himself had joined the calls last month. “Does anyone think that had he condemned it earlier we wouldn’t have threats to 90 JCCs? I don’t think so,” Foxman said. “It would have made us feel better. But that’s all.” Foxman also said the situation following the hate crimes is “serious but not critical.”
The ADL on March 2 offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Rochester, New York. Five headstones were found toppled that morning at the Waad Hakolel Cemetery, also known as the Stone Road Cemetery. It remains unclear if the attack was motivated by antisemitism. Also last month, more than 100 headstones were damaged in vandalism at a St. Louis-area Jewish cemetery.