For the third time in a month, the Bethesda area was the scene of anti-Semitic vandalism.
On Saturday morning, Montgomery County police officers went to Walt Whitman High School on Whittier Boulevard, where they found anti-Semitic graffiti spray-painted on the school’s sign. The words “Jews are not welcome” were written on the school sign.
On Friday, a swastika on a bench at a bus stop was reported to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
On November 14, anti-Semitic graffiti reading “No mercy for the Jews” was painted along the Bethesda Trolley Trail.
“Acts of hate and bigotry are on the rise across the country and in Montgomery County,” said Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones. “Anti-Semitism and any form of hate/bias are not welcome in our community.”
The police department has coordinated with the Anti-Defamation League and is continuing to investigate these incidents, Jones said. Officers are also actively increasing patrols to include community centers, schools, and places of worship throughout the county.
— Montgomery County Department of Police (@mcpnews) December 17, 2022
“As a community, we must work together to protect the diversity our county offers, and we must reject anti-Semitism and hate of any kind,” he wrote in a statement.
Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight said Montgomery County Public Schools “is deeply disturbed and saddened by the anti-Semitic graffiti found outside Walt Whitman High School.”
He added: “This hurtful behavior, along with any act of discrimination, has no place in our school community and will not be tolerated.”
Whitman Principal Robert Dodd sent a letter Saturday to community members, noting, “This behavior is abhorrent, extremely harmful, and will not be tolerated at Walt Whitman High School.”
High school officials notified police after “individuals” reported the incident.
On Dec. 14, the Walt Whitman Jewish Student Union, in collaboration with staff, took the school through a OneWhitman lesson on how to confront anti-Semitism, Dodd wrote in his letter.
“While we are deeply disturbed and disappointed by what occurred today, it will not deter us from our collective mission to end anti-Semitism and bigotry and build a safe and inclusive school community where ALL students can thrive,” Dodd wrote.
She encouraged parents to “talk to your kids about respecting and accepting all people and showing understanding of our differences. Help them understand the impact of intolerable symbols, words and actions.”
Montgomery County council members wrote a collective statement, noting: “We are disgusted and angry to learn of yet another display of hate directed at the Jewish community in Montgomery County. Our nation continues to experience a deeply troubling rise in anti-Semitism, and we must continue to come together to denounce these hateful acts here at home.”
The council “stands in solidarity with our Jewish community and condemns all acts of hate and religious intolerance,” the council members wrote in the joint statement.
Councilwoman Kate Stewart also issued a statement noting: “The appearance of unambiguously hateful anti-Semitic graffiti on the Walt Whitman HS sign, with the added context of it being two nights before the first night of Hanukkah, on Shabbat, is appalling and intolerable” in our country.” She added: “This is not the first hateful graffiti in Whitman, but together as a community, we can make it the last.”
Multiple Jewish organizations also issued a statement. The ADL (Anti-Defamation League) of Washington, DC, the American Jewish Community, DC, the Greater Washington Jewish Community Relations Council, and the Greater Washington Jewish Federation strongly signaled their anger and disgust over yet another incident of anti-Semitic vandalism.
The organizations urged anyone who sees hate acts or has information about it to contact police and the ADL.
“As organizations on the front lines and working together to combat this hate, we feel the growing alarm and fear in our community. Our region is known for celebrating and respecting diversity and is home to one of the largest Jewish populations in the country. We cannot normalize or become accustomed to the proliferation of such heinous acts,” the groups wrote in their joint statement.
‘No Mercy for Jews’ Antisemitic Graffiti in Bethesda