The Anti-Defamation League of Michigan (ADL) said on Monday that several graves in the Ahavas Israel cemetery in Grand Rapids were strewn in red spray paint with “Trump” and “Maga”.
The civil rights organization tweeted several photos showing spray paint on the graves. The incident is believed to have occurred over the weekend. The cemetery is owned by Ahavas Israel.
We are happy with the alleged desecration of Gravestone at Ahavas Israel Cemetery in Grand Rapids, MI. We are in close contact with the Jewish community and law enforcement to investigate this vandalism. pic.twitter.com/mVeGrlsWxE
– ADL Michigan (@ADLMichigan) November 2, 2020
The Grand Rapids Police Department would not comment on the incident when it reached The Hill.
Rabbi David J.B. Krushoff of the congregation said in a statement to The Hill that it was unclear whether the vandalism was an attack on the Jewish community.
“It may just be opportunistic vandalism against a cemetery that is isolated and hard to see from the street on Halloween weekend, not an attack against the Jewish community. We do not know. We have been in contact with the Grand Rapids Police and the Michigan ADL.
Speaking to The Hill, Caroline Normandine, ADL Michigan’s regional director, called the incident “ville” and “abusive”.
“It is difficult to know what the motivation was. I mean, frankly, I am troubled by all the vandalism for the graves. And so I never really think, ‘What does this mean?’ Or anything like that, but they are definitely of a political nature, ”said Normandine. “It’s really hard to get inside the head of a person who would do something like this.”
According to Normandine, vandalism was first reported by the cemetery president of the congregation. Normandine said police officers found vandalism on both sides of the graves. He estimated that a total of five graves were affected.
Although neither Krishif nor Normandin stated that the incident suggested that the incident was due to anti-Semitism, Normandin says that it cannot be ignored that anti-Jewish persecution is on the rise .
According to the ADL’s annual audit of anti-Semitic incidents in the US, 2,10 incidents were reported in 2019, 12 percent more than in 2011’s, and the highest recorded since the audit was established in 1979 . Last year there were more than 2,000 incidents, 61 involving vandalism. There were incidents from every state in the US except Hawaii and Alaska.
An anti-Semitic incident occurred in France last year when a man shouted swastika and anti-Semitic slogans to more than 90 graves. The incident led to widespread outrage in France, which has the largest Jewish population in Europe.
In Missouri last year, a man downed more than 100 Jewish graves. Aljado Harris received three years of probation and was ordered to pay $ 5,000 in reinstatement and attend an anger management course.
Police said they did not believe Harris’ actions were motivated by racial or religious prejudices.