Residents of a neighborhood in East-Central New Jersey awoke on Thursday to find swastikas and hate-filled slogans spray-painted on cars, sidewalks, fences, mailboxes and houses.
According to a report in The Jewish Press, the words “kill the Jews” and swastikas defaced the Monmouth Heights neighborhood of Monmouth County.
Approximately 75,000 Jews live in Monmouth County, with several tens of thousands of Jews located in the Monmouth Heights neighborhood.
Keith Krivitzky, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County, told The Jewish Press that while there are certainly Jewish families in the Monmouth Heights neighborhood, he didn’t think there was a higher concentration there than in the rest of Western Monmouth County.
“In fact,” he said, “there isn’t even a single synagogue in that neighborhood,” although there are many elsewhere in the county.
The report added that the Monmouth County Federation had provided a “security preparedness workshop” to synagogue representatives and Jewish organizational leadership just hours before the attack occurred.
Krivitzky explained that there are “ongoing security awareness events and discussions throughout the year, but the workshop held on the evening of September 5 was set in advance of the Jewish high holidays,” a time when Jews are more visible and, perhaps, more vulnerable.
He added that it is a tricky balance to ensure that the Jewish community is able to present a “warm and welcoming face, but at the same time we have the need to remain security conscious.” He also said that while “the hate-graffiti was shocking, we have a great, longstanding relationship with the Manalapan Township Police Department and we have complete confidence that they will devote all the necessary attention to resolving this incident.”
The Monmouth County Board of Freeholders issued a press release condemning the hate wave.
Freeholder Deputy Director Thomas A. Arnone said, “Religious persecution in any form is contrary to the founding principles of America. While we’d like to think the treatment of the Jews during World War II taught us right from wrong, the sad fact is the lesson was lost on some people. I personally find this kind of vandalism despicable.”
The Manalapan Township Bias Crimes Unit is working on the investigation which has been labelled a hate crime.
The Anti-Defamation League condemned the incident. Jeffrey K. Salkin, ADL New Jersey Community Director, said, “The defacement of public and private property in Manalapan with red swastikas and the message ‘kill the Jews’ represents an attack on the entire community. The swastika is a universal symbol of hate, meant to instill fear and intimidation. By targeting multiple locations the perpetrators in this case intended to send a message to the entire community.
“We urge members of the community to speak out and declare in one voice that these acts of hate are unacceptable,” added Salkin.
“We applaud the immediate response of the Manalapan Township Police Department and Monmouth County Prosecutors Office and are confident that those responsible will be identified and prosecuted. We are coordinating with the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County in responding to this incident.”