New threats made against US Jewish centers

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(CNN) — A new wave of bomb threats was received by Jewish community centers and Anti-Defamation League offices Tuesday in Atlanta, Boston, New York, Washington, Maryland, Milwaukee, Oregon and other American cities and states.

The threats — made via phone and email — are among more than 100 across the US and Canada since early January, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

There also have been acts of vandalism at Jewish cemeteries and several incidents in Miami where swastikas were etched into cars in recent weeks in what authorities are calling a disturbing pattern of anti-Semitism.

“This is not ‘normal,'” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement, “We will not be deterred or intimidated. These threats (are) in addition to threats to at least six JCCs and three day schools in Oregon, Wisconsin, Illinois, New York, Florida, Maryland and Toronto.”

In Washington, a letter signed by all 100 US senators on Tuesday urged the Trump administration to immediately respond to the anonymous bomb threats made against Jewish community centers, Jewish day schools, and synagogues across the nation.

Senators warn of accelerating threats

The letter from the senators said that, according to the Jewish Federations of North America, at least 98 incidents had been reported against JCCs and Jewish day schools at 81 locations in 33 states during the first two months of the year.

The senators also voiced concerns about the desecration of hundreds of headstones at Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia.

In the letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey, the senators wrote: “We are concerned that the number of incidents is accelerating and failure to address and deter these threats will place innocent people at risk and threaten the financial viability of JCCs, many of which are institutions in their communities.”

In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O’Neil were to hold a closed-door meeting with Jewish leaders at a JCC on Staten Island on Tuesday to discuss the spate anti-Semitic incidents throughout the city.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday directed the state police to coordinate with federal and local law enforcement to investigate bomb threats against New York Jewish community centers in Rochester and Syracuse and the Anti- Defamation League headquarters in Manhattan.

In a statement, Cuomo said the latest threats were a “pointed assault on the values we hold dear, and we will not allow these types of threats to continue to pervade our society. Jewish Community Centers across New York serve as a gathering place for children, seniors, friends and neighbors — and any threat to them is an attack on all of us.”

‘Time for action’

The Jewish center in Syracuse tweeted that their campus had received a phone threat Tuesday morning and that people there sheltered in place.

“Everyone is safe and all is ok,” the center later tweeted:”Everything is back up and running normally.”

In Chicago, police evacuated a Jewish grade school on the North Side because of a bomb threat Tuesday morning, authorities said.

The threat was made around 9:10 a.m. against the Chicago Jewish Day School on North Sheridan Road in the Edgewater Beach neighborhood, according to police.

In Milwaukee, Jewish center president and CEO Mark Shapiro said the center was evacuated and delayed the start of the school day after receiving an email threat overnight. Operations resumed about 9 a.m., Shapiro said

Said the ADL’s Greenblatt, “This adds to the 121 threats received since early January. It is time for action, and we call on the administration and Congress to take concrete steps to catch those threatening the Jewish community.”

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