As antisemitic incidents are on the rise, local Jewish groups decided to take an unusual step by offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the individual responsible for two recent incidents.
The executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, Ron Haber, along with the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Gil Preuss, announced today that each organization has jointly funded a reward in the amount of $5,000.
“Over the past 6 to 8 months, there's been a significant increase in antisemitic incidents in the Washington, D.C. region,” said Preuss. “Whether it is graffiti, whether on public spaces or at schools or other places. And we felt that it was important to make a statement that we are taking this seriously, that we want to find the perpetrators and to elevate to the community, both the Jewish community and the general community, that this is something that we need to address.”
He said that there are several reasons for offering a reward. “Part of this is absolutely to find the perpetrators and to make sure that they get punished. And the other part is to make sure that everyone knows that antisemitism is a significant issue that we have to tackle as a community and as a country.”
The reward is $2,500 each for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a person for either the vandalism at the Walt Whitman High School that someone spray painted, 'No Jews Allowed' or to the vandalism on the Bethesda Trail where someone spray painted 'no mercy for Jews.'
He said that the groups decided to focus specifically on those two incidents, partly because they were very public places. “Sadly, there are swastikas every week. Just this past weekend, there were several at public schools in our region that were found. Seeing swastikas, that's occurring all the time,” said Preuss.
“We're hoping that by going after some of the bigger [incidents], that it'll also send a message to the people who put a swastika in the bathroom or in the dorm room, that we send a message to them as well.”
“We want to send the message that anti-Semitism is unacceptable and that it's vandalism and anti-Semitism, that it's a crime, and that people will get caught and punished,” Preuss said.
The Montgomery County Police Department also investigates the incidents. In a recent press release, the department said that it “takes these events seriously, has coordinated with the Anti-Defamation League and continues to investigate and identify the persons responsible for these incidents.”