Pence visits vandalized Jewish cemetery

"I must tell you the people of Missouri are inspiring the nation by your love and care for this place, for the Jewish community in Missouri, and I want to thank you for that inspiration."

By
February 23, 2017 00:51
2 minute read.

Pence visits vandalized Jewish cemetery in St. Louis on Feb. 22, 2017 (credit: REUTERS)

Pence visits vandalized Jewish cemetery in St. Louis on Feb. 22, 2017 (credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON – US Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday visited a Jewish cemetery in Missouri that was attacked earlier in the week, where aid workers were repairing more than 170 tombstones toppled by vandals.

The act was a tipping point for the White House after weeks of reports that antisemitic incidents and rhetoric were on the rise. Senior officials, including President Donald Trump, began speaking out forcefully against the phenomenon this week, breaking a period of silence.

At the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, Pence said the Trump administration is committed to fighting hatred and bigotry in all of their forms.

“There’s no place in America for hatred or acts of prejudice or violence or antisemitism,”
he said. “I must tell you, the people of Missouri are inspiring the nation by your love and care for this place, for the Jewish community in Missouri, and I want to thank you for that inspiration, for showing the world what America is really all about.

“To walk in to see that the headstones that were vandalized are already repaired is evidence of your love and your care for the heritage and the history and for those that are cherished here, to the federation and to all of you,” he added, referring to the local Jewish community chapter.

Pence was joined by a regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, which received a bomb threat to its national headquarters earlier in the day.

More than 70 bomb threats have been phoned in to Jewish community centers and offices since the beginning of the year – an unprecedented spike in antisemitic threats, coupled with a marked spike in antisemitic rhetoric on social media, according the Anti-Defamation League and local authorities.

Trump condemned the previous threats as antisemitism for the first time on Tuesday after repeatedly declining to do so when asked by journalists last week. Some Jewish organizations have criticized his approach, saying they fear that the groups that supported Trump had become more active.

The attack on Chesed Shel Emeth was widely interpreted as motivated by antisemitic animus, although the perpetrators have not been identified.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for the second day in a row, commended Trump on Thursday for taking a stand earlier in the week against antisemitism. He also praised Pence for his words and actions on the matter.

Asked by The Jerusalem Post whether he thinks Trump is doing enough against antisemitism, he replied, “He is, yes.”

Herb Keinon contributed to this report from Sydney.


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