Two separate instances of anti-Semitic vandalism are outraging the communities of Miami and Miami Beach. This week, multiple occurrences of anti-Semitic graffiti at synagogues in Miami-Dade County were reported, in which the perpetrators painted swastikas and the word “Hamas” on the property. Cars have also been victims of these attacks.
The Miami Herald reports that Torah V’Emunah, an Orthodox synagogue in Northeast Miami-Dade County, was spray-painted with swastikas and the word “Hamas” on its pillars. The police are investigating, but no suspects have been named. Rabbi Yerucham Benzinger of Torah V’Emunah described the incident as “very painful” and the community as feeling “violated” after the incident. Worshipers who attend services at the synagogue agreed, with one attendee, Michael Katz, telling CBS News that the act was “absolutely a desecration of something holy. It’s a disgusting thing to see.”
— Juan C Fernández M (@jcfernandezm) July 29, 2014
The synagogue attack followed an incident in which two cars, both owned by the same Jewish family, were found covered in eggs and cream cheese spelling out “Jew” and “Hamas,” according to the Herald. Law enforcement is treating both situations as hate crimes. Rachel, the daughter of the family affected and who wished not to give CBS her last name, said the Jewish neighborhood was “shocked”: “No one knew what was going on, we’re like this is America, this is Miami. Why would we be targeted here? We’re supposed to be safe, free from anti-Semitism.” The family, she explained, did not realize what had happened until they saw a crowd surrounding each of their two cars.
— Miami New Times (@MiamiNewTimes) July 28, 2014
The incidents were disturbing not just to the large Jewish community of Miami, but Latin Americans who work and live with Jewish residents. Clara Gontovnik, a Venezuelan resident of Miami who works at a Jewish center, tells Spanish-language media that the attacks were not surprising. “Every time there is a conflict in Israel, there is a protest here,” he says. “It happened four years ago–they painted a swastika on our mailbox.” Gontovnik predicted that “high school boys” were behind the vandalism, adding, “It was probably one of them, but maybe also a Muslim or Arab.”
The incidents follow a number of pro-Palestine rallies that have surfaced in the area, some ending in violence. In one such rally last week, protesters were heard chanting, “We are Hamas” and seen antagonizing–and sometimes attacking–those in the public area who were suspected of allying with Israel. In a separate incident, a Jewish reporter at a Council on Islamic Relations (CAIR)-affiliated protest was threatened physically and attacked for being a “Zionist.”