Vandals paint swastikas on headstones at Jewish cemetery in Brooklyn

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BROOKLYN, Ohio — Several headstones at a Jewish cemetery were desecrated with swastikas in what officials are calling a “cowardly act.”

According to a statement from the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, the vandalism occurred at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery on Ridge Road in Brooklyn.

“It is absolutely sickening that anyone could have so much hate for the Jewish people that they would desecrate (the cemetery),” the statement says. “This cowardly act to violate the memory of our elders only confirms what we already know: The hatred of the Jewish community here and around the world now is at a level not seen in generations.”

The federation says about 20 people went to the cemetery Sunday to help clean off swastikas from headstones. WKYC Channel 3 reports tarps have been placed over vandalized tombstones.

“Further proof of the strength of our community and the unwavering commitment to one another that connects us,” the federation says in a statement.

The federation says it is working with law enforcement in hopes of finding who was responsible for the vandalism. Brooklyn police have not released information on the incident.

“We will restore the damage of the cemetery and return the dignity to the damaged gravesites,” the federation says. “And we will continue combat hate against all communities with an unbending resolve.”

There has been a 388% increase in incidents of antisemitism since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL says in a report released on Oct. 24 there were 312 antisemitic incidents between Oct. 7-23. There were 64 incidents during the same period in 2022.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations reports there also has been an marked increase of incidents of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias since the beginning of the Hamas-Israel war, according to ABC News. CAIR tells ABC it has received 1,283 requests for help and reports of bias since Oct. 7.