Charlottesville denies synagogue 'abandoned' during Nazi rally

Charlottesville City Manager Muarice Jones denied claims that the local synagogue was left unguarded during white supremacist march.

Yoel Domb,

KKK march in Charlottesville
KKK march in Charlottesville
Reuters

Alan Zimmerman, president of Congregation Beth Israel in Charlottesville, Virginia, wrote a blog post published last Monday evening following the violent scenes on Saturday that resulted in a car-ramming attack just 200 feet from the place of worship.

He described the fear he felt in the presence of white supremacists, who rallied around shouting anti-Semitic slogans, as 40 members of the community prayed in the synagogue, without support from the local authorities.

Zimmerman claimed that the police department promised to provide “an observer” near the building but Zimmerman says the promise “was not kept” by the force, leaving the congregation vulnerable to assault as they prayed.

“For half an hour, three men dressed in fatigues and armed with semi-automatic rifles stood across the street from the temple,” he wrote. “Had they tried to enter, I don’t know what I could have done to stop them, but I couldn’t take my eyes off them, either.”

"Not only did armed protesters stand across from the synagogue, but neo-Nazis paraded past the building, shouting anti-Semitic slogans, a horrible reminder of Nazi Germany’s persecution and mass slaughter of European Jews.

“Several times, parades of Nazis passed our building, shouting, 'There's the synagogue!' followed by chants of 'Sieg Heil' and other anti-Semitic language. Some carried flags with swastikas and other Nazi symbols,” Zimmerman wrote.

However police and municipal leaders have categorically denied Zimmerman's claims.

Charlottesville City Manager Maurice Jones said it “is simply not the case that Congregation Beth Israel was left unguarded” during last Saturday’s event, when neo-Nazis and white supremacists gathered in the city. The synagogue’s senior rabbi also seemed to confirm the police statement.

“Police stationed an officer on the corner of the block where the synagogue is located, plus another 32 officers about one block away in the other direction,” Jones said in a statement to JTA. “In addition, we had snipers on a rooftop in close proximity whose primary responsibility was to monitor a two-block radius which included Beth Israel.

“We also had a group of Virginia State Police officers who were walking a four-block radius between two of our parks on a route that passed the synagogue on several occasions throughout the day’s events.”




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