Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and the Anti-Defamation League condemned the anti-Israel vandalism in a Jewish community near the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh one day before the fifth anniversary of the horrific murder of 11 congregants.
Yet the Southern Poverty Law Center, which bills itself as an expert on “hate groups” and antisemitism, has declined to comment on the vandalism, even though it commemorated the shooting.
“The Left’s disgusting antisemitism knows no bounds,” Cruz told The Daily Signal in a statement Friday. “This is absolutely disgraceful.”
“When conflict erupts in Israel, antisemitic incidents soon follow in the U.S. and globally,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, told The Daily Signal in a statement Friday. “From white supremacists in California displaying antisemitic banners on highway overpasses to radical anti-Zionists harassing Jewish people because of their real or perceived support for the Jewish state, we are witnessing a disturbing rise in antisemitic activity here while the war rages overseas.”
Vandals spray-painted “Free Palestine” on the wall of the Taylor Allderdice High School in the predominantly Jewish neighborhood of Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh sometime before Thursday morning, the Washington Examiner’s Salena Zito reported.
The vandals also spray-painted “GAZA” over the word “Israel” on a sign reading, “We Stand With Israel.”
Robert Gregory Bowers, 46 at the time, shot and killed 11 people, wounding six, during Shabbat morning services on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. Many of the victims had survived the Holocaust. Police shot Bowers multiple times and arrested him at the scene. A jury found him guilty of 63 federal crimes on June 16 of this year, and a judge sentenced him in August to death by lethal injection. He separately faces 36 charges in Pennsylvania state court.
The shooting remains the deadliest attack against Jews in American history.
“The day before the fifth anniversary of the deadliest antisemitic attack in this country’s history, it is beyond the pale that this type of thing would happen in this neighborhood,” Rich Fitzgerald, a 40-year resident of Squirrel Hill who lived across the street from Allderice for years, told Zito. Several of his children and his wife attended the high school.
“This morning, a message written in graffiti on the premises of Pittsburgh Allderdice High School threatens our core belief that education begins with a safe and healthy learning environment,” Pittsburgh Public Schools said in a statement on the vandalism.
“We believe every student has the right to attend school without fearing discrimination and intimidation,” the school district added. “We will not tolerate acts threatening our core principles of respect, inclusivity, and kindness. We are grateful to our facilities team for immediately covering the graffiti, which has now been removed entirely from the facility.”
“We are working closely with law enforcement to ensure appropriate action is taken regarding the defacing of school district property,” the district added.
Pittsburgh Police confirmed to The Daily Signal that the department is aware of the incident and is “actively investigating.”
Both of Pennsylvania’s senators condemned the vandalism.
“I just got off the phone with Dr. McCoy of Allderdice High School and Rabbi Myers from the Tree of Life to check in and offer my support,” Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said in a post on X, formerly Twitter. “This is a painful week for the Squirrel Hill neighborhood and the entire Jewish community in Pittsburgh. I stand with them, now and always.”
“This is reprehensible. The only thing that belongs on a wall right now is this,” Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., wrote on X with a photo of the kidnapped victims from the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel.
David McCormick, the Republican businessman running against Casey, also condemned the vandalism.
“This is an affront to the Pittsburgh Jewish community, which has already gone through too much,” McCormick said. “I am proud to stand with Israel and against this type of antisemitic hate.”
Since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist massacre of 1,400 Israeli civilians, the Anti-Defamation League has recorded a spike in antisemitic incidents across the U.S. The ADL Center on Extremism reported that incidents of harassment, vandalism, and assault increased by 388% over the same period last year.
ADL counted 312 antisemitic incidents between Oct. 7 and Oct. 23, 190 of which were linked to the war in Israel and Gaza. During the same period in 2022, ADL counted 64 incidents, four of which involved Israel. ADL has also found that at least 109 anti-Israel rallies since Oct. 7 included explicit or strong implicit support for Hamas and/or violence against Jews in Israel. These rallies are included in the 312-incident tally.
Many organizations and politicians commemorated the fifth anniversary of the Tree of Life shooting, but few noted the vandalism.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who has called for a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel even while Hamas holds more than 200 hostages following the Oct. 7 attack, posted about the shooting Friday. Critics faulted her for appearing to ignore the deaths of Jews in Israel.
Omar did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request comment on the anti-Israel vandalism.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which has yet to comment on the Hamas attack or the spread of antisemitism in the U.S. in its wake, also commemorated the shooting but did not respond to a request for comment on the vandalism. The SPLC’s union has emphasized the lives of Palestinians, neglecting to mention Hamas’ Jewish victims, and called for a cease-fire.
As I explain in my book “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” the SPLC took the program it had used to bankrupt organizations associated with the Ku Klux Klan and weaponized it against conservative groups, partially to scare its donors into ponying up cash and partially to silence ideological opponents.
Amid a racial discrimination and sexual harassment scandal in which the SPLC fired its co-founder, a former employee called the “hate” accusations a “highly profitable scam.”
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