Muslim groups have raised tens of thousands of dollars to repair a Jewish cemetery that was vandalised amid a wave of anti-Semitic threats sweeping the US.
More than 100 headstones were toppled in the 123-year-old Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in Missouri at the same time some 11 Jewish community centres received bomb threats across the US. All bomb threats were determined to be hoaxes.
Now campaigners organised by the Mpower Change and CelebrateMercy Muslim groups have pledged some $55,000 to repair the graveyard. Their target was just $20,000, and organisers Linda Sarsour and Tarek el-Messidi say the rest will go to repair other vandalised locations.
They wrote on their fund-raising page, "While these senseless acts have filled us with sorrow, we reflect on the message of unity, tolerance, and mutual protection found in the Constitution of Medina, an historic social contract between the Medinan Jews and the first Muslim community."
Now over double the initial goal. This is what solidarity looks like. pic.twitter.com/78GHi4I7Z2February 22, 2017
A regional director of the Anti-Defamation League said she reacted emotionally when she saw the damaged headstones in University City.
“To see their lives desecrated this way is horrific,” Karen Aroesty told the St Louis Post-Dispatch. She did not speculate about whether the damage was caused by a hate-fuelled attack, but she did have suspicions as to the motivations behind the destruction of the headstones.
The St Louis Rabbinical Association denounced the destruction as “horrifying and disgraceful acts of vandalism” in a statement released on Facebook. “Planning is underway for a community clean-up effort,” they said.
“Anti-semitism is horrible, and it’s going to stop”, he told MSNBC. He added that anti-Semitism was “age-old, and there’s something going on that doesn’t fully allow it to heal. Sometimes it gets better and then it busts apart. “But we want to have it get very much better, get unified and stay together," he said.