We were profoundly saddened to learn that over 500 gravestones at Mt. Carmel Cemetery were desecrated over the weekend. In the context of the grave desecration in St. Louis earlier this week and a rise in anti-Semitic incidents around the country, this appears to be another outrageous and heinous attack on our community. Yet we also see this attack for what it is: part of a broader assault on all the targets of the white nationalists emboldened by Donald Trump, who refused for months to condemn them, and then only did so in the vaguest terms.
We applaud Mayor Jim Kenney’s condemnation of this attack and demand a swift response from Senator Pat Toomey and other congressional leaders who are working with Trump. They must go beyond mere condemnation by acknowledging the role this president has played in fomenting intolerance and xenophobia across the country. Trump and his enablers in Congress have already done immense damage to our society, and they must take extraordinary steps, immediately, to halt the spiral of hatred they have unleashed, whether it targets Jews, Muslims, immigrants, transgender individuals, or any other group. If they do not, they should expect to hear from us.
In Philadelphia and around the country, JVP is committed to fighting anti-Semitism alongside fighting Islamophobia, xenophobia and racism. We are deeply inspired by the solidarity of Muslim-American leaders Linda Sarsour and Tarik El-Messidi, who raised over $100,000 to help repair the gravestones in St. Louis, and are now directing extra funds from that effort to Philadelphia.
It is in this spirit of solidarity that we continue to resist Trump. We are heartened by the swift response of other Jewish organizations to this attack. We believe Jewish institutions in Philadelphia and beyond must speak openly about the political roots of the anti-Semitism we are currently witnessing. We invite Jewish organizations to no longer hold their tongues when Muslims, immigrants, and people of color come under attack, but to connect the fear and threats against Jews to rising violence against other oppressed groups. We will continue to show up not only for ourselves but for each other, whenever mosques are attacked, cemeteries are desecrated, or immigrants are detained.