In mid-February 2017, Anti-Defamation League began speaking out about what appears to be a wave of anti-Semitic incidents across the country. On 22 February 2017, the ADL itself became a target when someone called a bomb threat into the civil rights organization’s New York City headquarters.
According to a New York police spokesman, the NYPD received a 911 call just after 11 a.m. from the Anti-Defamation League, reporting a bomb threat. The police and the NYPD bomb squad responded, searched the building, and found it to be safe; the building was not evacuated. Authorities are in the early stages of the investigation. Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s chief executive officer, released the following statement:
Today, ADL’s national headquarters in New York received an anonymous bomb threat. While there is no information at this time to indicate that this is more than a threat, we are taking it very seriously. We are working with law enforcement officials to determine if it is connected to similar threats against Jewish institutions across the country. This is not the first time that ADL has been targeted and it will not deter us in our efforts to combat anti-Semitism and hate against people of all races and religions.
The incident was one of dozens of instances of threats and vandalism targeting Jewish community centers and other landmarks across the country in early 2017. In one incident, vandals desecrated a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri by toppling and damaging headstones. Muslim-American activists Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi have raised nearly $100,000 to repair Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery:
On the heels of bomb threats and hate crimes against dozens of Jewish community center’s across the United States, a historical Jewish cemetery was vandalized this past weekend when over 170 headstones were damaged. Muslim Americans stand in solidarity with the Jewish-American community to condemn this horrific act of desecration against the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery. We also extend our deepest condolences to all those who have been affected and to the Jewish community at large.
According to the Jewish Community Center Association of North America, this outbreak of threats is the fourth wave this year of similar incidents:
On February 20, 11 Jewish community centers received phoned-in bomb threats. This comes in the aftermath of three waves of bomb threats in January (Jan. 9, Jan. 18, and Jan. 31), resulting in, through today, 68 incidents at 53 JCCs in 26 states and one Canadian province in total. All bomb threats this year proved to be hoaxes, and all JCCs impacted have returned to regular operations.
On 20 February 2017 alone, eleven Jewish community centers received hoax bomb threats, according to David Posner, director of strategic performance at JCC Association of North America.
Vice President Mike Pence visited the vandalized cemetery and condemned the act as “vile”:
On Monday morning America awoke to discover that nearly 200 tombstones were toppled in a nearby Jewish graveyard… We condemn this vile act of vandalism and those who perpetrate it in the strongest possible terms.