As CBS points out this morning, the sudden rash of threats against Jewish community centers continues to grow. Yesterday, nearly thirty locations in 17 states received some kind of threat, and the number overall is close to a hundred, including one in Canada. The FBI wants to know who is behind it, why — and also where. They believe that it’s a coordinated effort, and some of the calls appear to be coming from overseas:
CNN has more details this morning. It’s not just the calls, though:
This is the fifth wave of bomb threats targeting JCCs across the US and Canada since the beginning of 2017, according to the ADL. A number of JCCs have received multiple threats. …
Miami Beach police are investigating several incidents in which swastikas were etched into cars over the weekend. Police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez tells CNN that five cars were vandalized in an area that is predominantly Jewish. …
Meanwhile, police in Philadelphia are trying to determine who vandalized a Jewish cemetery over the weekend.
Between 75 and 100 tombstones were overturned and damaged Saturday night at the Mount Carmel Cemetery in the Wissinoming neighborhood. The incident is being classified as institutional vandalism, but investigators have not established a motive, according to Detective Jim McReynolds.
After getting off to a slow start on a public response, the Trump administration has asserted itself a little more directly over the last few days. Donald Trump finally addressed anti-Semitism while touring the National Museum of African American History last week. Yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions pledged to use the resources of the Department of Justice to assist in any prosecution of these acts:
— ABC News (@ABC) February 28, 2017
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has called vandalism at Jewish cemeteries and bomb threats at Jewish centers and schools serious, unacceptable behavior and promised the Justice Department will “do what it can to assist in prosecuting anybody” proven to have participated.
Speaking Monday, he called the attacks and threats “a very serious and disruptive practice.”
Earlier in the day, Sean Spicer read a prepared statement from the White House condemning these acts, and promising that the Trump administration would defend Jewish communities:
Press Sec: Pres. Trump "deeply disappointed and concerned" by new incidents of vandalism and bomb threats against Jewish communities. pic.twitter.com/MVMaNGSZVJ
— ABC News (@ABC) February 27, 2017
With the FBI investigating these threats as a potential conspiracy, it’s almost certain the DoJ would have to prosecute in the end anyway, especially if some of the calls originate from overseas. This does not appear to be an isolated series of events, but a campaign of some sort against Jews in America. Breaking this ring will be Jeff Sessions’ first major test, regardless of his own priorities. This is a test of his competence and that of the FBI and DoJ, and Sessions can’t afford to fail it.
Neither can the US. We stand for religious liberty in general, but the Jewish community is an even more critical case — a canary in a coal mine for freedom. Every Western country that has allowed organized anti-Semitic terrorism to grow has paid a dear price for it in the end. Even in the most self-interested terms, we should stand up against it if for no other reason than it rarely stops with the Jews. But that is hardly the only reason, or even a very good reason; we should stand up for the Jews because they are our brothers and sisters, our fellow Americans, and human beings with dignity and worth. Enough is enough.