A Jewish cemetery in Rochester, New York is the latest to report topped headstones, after Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia reported hundreds of similar incidents. At least five headstones were toppled at Vaad Hakolel Cemetery, also called Stone Road Cemetery. Rochester has two Jewish cemeteries.
Michael Phillips, director of the Britton Road Association, which manages Rochester’s Jewish cemeteries, was hesitant to call the incident anti-Semitic. “I don’t think there’s any proof of that,” he told the Democrat and Chronicle. None of the headstones were defaced, as many had been at the cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia, he said.
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Following a week of threats and vandalism against Jewish community centers, cemeteries and other institutions, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly is promising to coordinate more with American Jews to combat hate crimes and ensure the group’s safety.
“In light of the nature of the threats to Jewish Community Centers, I have directed DHS to heighten our outreach and support to enhance public safety,” Kelly wrote in a letter obtained by Politico. Though spare on specifics, Kelly said that his department would touch base with Jewish institutions in order to help them adopt best practices around security. He also pledged that his agency would help track down perpetrators of hate crimes.
“The right to worship and commune within and across faiths is fundamental to the American experience and our way of life. DHS will continue to support communities across the country to preserve these fundamental freedoms,” Kelly wrote.
JERUSALEM (JTA) — Former NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire apologized for making homophobic comments to an Israeli website, saying his remarks were “offensive” but meant to be “taken as jokes.”
“I want to apologize for my offensive comments against the LGBT community,” he said in a statement issued Wednesday evening. “These remarks were taken from a larger interview where a reporter was asking me hypothetical questions, and all my answers had a comedic undertone.”
In an interview with the Hebrew-language news site Walla posted Tuesday, Stoudemire, in a response caught on video, said: “I’m going to shower across the street, make sure my change of clothes are around the corner. And I’m going to drive — take a different route to the gym.”
Asked by the reporter if he were joking, Stoudemire replied that “there’s always a truth within a joke.”
In his statement, Stoudemire said, “The answers I gave were meant to be taken as jokes & I am deeply sorry for offending anyone.”
In 2012, Stoudemire was fined $50,000 by the NBA for using a gay slur on Twitter in response to a critical fan.
After she exhorted Fox News viewers last month to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” Kellyanne Conway escaped any significant punishment for having violated government ethics rules, as White House attorneys reminded her of the regulations in two conversations and then sent her on her way.
“We concluded that Ms. Conway acted inadvertently and is highly unlikely to do so again,” Stefan Passantino, the deputy White House counsel, wrote to Walter Shaub, head of the Office of Government Ethics, in a letter. He added that she made the statement “in a light, off-hand manner while attempting to stand up for a person she believed had been unfairly treated and did so without nefarious motive or intent to benefit personally.”
Conway’s remarks on Fox came under scrutiny from both sides of the aisle, with Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz, chair of the House Oversight Committee, scolding her for violating federal ethics rules on making commercial promotions. Shaub’s office initially asked the White House counsel to look into the matter, and is said to be assessing whether her talking-to was an appropriate punishment.
The House Oversight Committee’s ranking Democrat criticized the White House move in comments to Politico. “It’s a very bad sign that the president chose not to discipline Ms. Conway for blatantly violating the law,” Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings said. “Other federal employees would likely be suspended for engaging in this conduct, and White House officials should not be held to a different standard.”
New York’s hate crime wave, which started after President Donald Trump’s November election, has continued in the new year, with the city police department releasing figures that show a virtual doubling of anti-Semitic incident reports over this time last year.
“Hate crimes are up in this city. They’re driven primarily by anti-Semitic hate crimes,” Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said at a Queens press conference on Wednesday. According to the stats, there were 18 reports of anti-Semitic hate crimes in January and February 2016, as opposed to 35 such reports in January and February 2017. Overall, bias incidents are up 54 percent since 2016, with 68 reports through the first two months of the year, compared to 44 in the same period of 2016.
Those numbers confirm anecdotal evidence of a barrage of threats and vandalism against New York’s Jewish community, which has manifested in hate graffiti on buildings and in public spaces, in addition to menacing phone calls made to Jewish community centers in the city and throughout the country.
The NYPD said that it would beef up security at synagogues ahead of Passover in response to the figures, while New York Mayor Bill de Blasio signaled his dismay at the stats and promised to protect New Yorkers from hate crimes.
The incidents, he said, are occurring “against a backdrop of growing numbers of anti-Semitic instances all over this country and all over this world.” He added, “I want everyone who is concerned to know that NYPD is highly focused, as it always is, on protecting all communities.”
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