U.S. Muslim Vets Vow To Defend Jewish Centers Under Siege

Surge of hate crimes is also bringing Americans together.

The frightening increase in bomb threats against U.S. Jewish centers and schools and the desecration of Jewish cemeteries has triggered an outpouring of support on Twitter from Muslim veterans offering to protect the sites any time, anywhere.

One vet wrote: “If your synagogue or Jewish cemetery needs someone to stand guard, count me in.”

Another tweeted: “I’m a Muslim Veteran in Arizona & will readily stand guard at any Jewish Synagogue or Cemetery at ANY hour. #WeAreOne.”

The response follows yet another surge of bomb threats Monday against Jewish centers and school across America, the fifth major wave of such intimidation this year. There was a second flurry of threats called in Monday evening against Jewish centers — and at least one school — in California, Washington, Nevada and Arizona.

The hate crimes, which exploded following the divisive rhetoric of the presidential campaign, have had the unexpected outcome of uniting American Jews and Muslims. A Muslim activist helped raise over $135,000 to repair gravestones vandalized in a Jewish cemetery in a St. Louis suburb over a week ago. Tarek El-Messidi said extra funds will now be used to also help restore Philadelphia’s Mount Carmel Cemetery, which was vandalized over the weekend.

“We must stand together against these acts of racism, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia,” El-Messidi wrote on Facebook.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community center in Philadelphia issued a statement condemning the vandalism of the local cemetery and dispatched a team to help with cleanup and security. “We are deeply disturbed by the continuing attacks against our Jewish brothers and sisters,” the organization said in a statement.

After bomb threats were called into a Jewish centers in New York and New Jersey on Monday, one woman, Elen Arad, a cantor in New York’s Westchester County, talked of her fear to a local radio station. But, she added, “while I’m horrified by what’s happening, I’m really touched by the outpouring by our Muslim friends and our Christian friends.”