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Manalapan graffiti attacks called ‘anti-American’
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Manalapan graffiti attacks called ‘anti-American’

Police investigate vandalism as hate crime

Manalapan police and the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office are investigating graffiti attacks that left swastikas and anti-Jewish slogans on various locations in Manalapan.

A dozen swastikas and a sign saying “kill the Jews” were discovered on the morning of Sept. 6.

They appeared on a fence, mailboxes, a car, a telephone box,  a road, and on street signs. At one location, the Nazi symbol and the phrase “kill the jews” were painted in red on a white picket fence.

The swastikas appeared on Taylor Mills Road, Livingston Road, Grayson Road, and Route 9 in the Monmouth Heights section of Manalapan, a predominantly Jewish part of the township.

Within hours after the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County was notified of the incidents, its director of community impact,  Ariella Raviv, toured the affected areas.

“The people who spoke to me said the homes that were targeted were Jewish homes,” she told NJ Jewish News. “There were mezuzas on the door of the homes that had been painted and the swastikas were also on street signs, which are public property.”

Although Manalapan police and the Monmouth County Prosecutors Office are labeling the incidents a hate crime, “It is not clear who did this, whether it is an organized group or a crazy local kid,” said Keith Krivitzky, executive director of the federation.

“There are always those who espouse hate,” said Joe Hollander, federation president, in a press release. “We recognize the actions of a few do not represent most in our country.  Acts of hate are anti-American.  We have full confidence in the [police and prosecutors] to investigate this crime fully.”

The graffiti assaults were discovered the morning after  the federation sponsored a Security Preparedness Training for the community, scheduled ahead of this month's High Holy Day observances. Four local security experts led the training at the Marlboro Jewish Center.

“Our goal is to enable all of our partners to be as welcoming as possible during the High Holy Days, while also being as smart as possible in terms of recognizing potential risks and having a game plan in place for dealing with security issues,” said Krivitzky.

He called the attacks “a wake-up call.”

“We live in a great, warm, welcoming place, but at the same time, there are extremists who exist out there. That is something important to be aware of,” he told NJJN.

The Anti-Defamation League is partnering with law enforcement agencies and the federation in investigating the incidents and denouncing those who would deface property with the Nazi symbol.

“The swastika is not merely an anti-Semitic symbol,” said Jeffrey Salkin, ADL’s New Jersey community director. “As the symbol of the most hated regime in history, a regime against which Americans fought and died, it is an affront to all people. We cannot afford to believe that only Jews own that pain. While it was true that this was targeted against Jewish homes, anyone seeing a swastika anywhere should feel it in his or her gut.”

The timing of the incident so close to the start of Rosh Hashana has Krivitzky and other leaders especially concerned about the safety of synagogues in their community.

“We want to engage our partners in the Jewish community and have them take security seriously,” he said. “We have some excellent experts who willing to work with any of our partners to go more in depth and do risk assessments for the High Holy Days and beyond.

“Many of our community rabbis are going to speak about this on Shabbat or the holidays. It is a theme that is going to play out of the next few months,” he said.

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