Governor says antisemitic vandalism has ‘no place’ in Pennsylvania

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Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) said antisemitic vandalism has “no place” in Pennsylvania, after a synagogue was spray-painted with a red swastika on Saturday night.

“This is the second message I’ve written like this in as many days. It’s two too many. Antisemitism and the vandalism of a house of worship of any kind have no place in this Commonwealth,” Shapiro said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

In a Facebook post, the synagogue’s leadership said the incident was the second incident of vandalism to take place in just over a week.

Last Friday night, a sign that said “Our Community Stands With Israel” was spray-painted with red paint. The police got involved, and the sign was replaced. On Saturday night, the new sign was spray-painted with a red swastika.

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“A swastika is not a commentary on the policies of the State of Israel, nor is it a sign of solidarity with Palestinians. It is a symbol of hatred and division,” the synagogue wrote in the statement.

The synagogue’s statement further pledged not to be deferred by efforts to intimidate.

“We do not know who did this. We do know that they wanted us to be afraid,” the statement read.

“We, the leadership of the synagogue, want everyone to know that we will not give in to either fear or division. We are blessed to live in a society in which hate speech is not tolerated by the police, who are working with us to keep us safe. We are blessed to live in a society where our neighbors of other faiths have already reached out to offer support,” they added.

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Shapiro said he has spoken to the rabbi of the congregation at Temple Beth Hillel/Beth El “and told him we stand with his wonderful congregation and against hate.”

Shapiro said Pennsylvania State Police is coordinating with law enforcement as they search for the person responsible.

“These acts of hate will never change the fact that no matter what you look like, where you come from, who you love, or who you do and don’t pray to, you belong here in Pennsylvania,” Shapiro said.

The vandalism comes amid a spike in antisemitic incidents, particularly since the war between Hamas and Israel began after the Oct. 7 attack.

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In the two months following that attack, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) recorded a record-high number of antisemitic incidents since the group began tracking in 1979. There were more than 2,000 reported antisemitic incidents, a 337 percent spike from the same period the year before.

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