Urmston Jewish Cemetery in Greater Manchester has seen three incidents of vandalism, involving smashed matzeivos, in the space of a month.
In May, there were two separate cases of damage in which 22 matzeivos were destroyed. The latest incident, which was reported last week, involved over 30 matzeivos being knocked over and damaged or destroyed. It is estimated that as much as £100,000 ($132,000) worth of damage has been caused over the past few weeks.
Co-chairmen of the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester Councilor Heather Fletcher and Mohammed Amin issued a statement in which they said, “We are deeply saddened to learn that, for the third time in a month, Jewish gravestones in Urmston Cemetery have been badly vandalized.
“The desecration of the last resting place of our loved ones is done to hurt and offend the living. It is an appalling act, usually carried out by bigots.
“Sadly, it has happened all too often in both Jewish and Muslim cemeteries in recent years.
“We hope that the perpetrators are found and brought to justice as soon as possible, and we encourage all citizens to give the police as much assistance as possible. Such depraved, racist and hurtful behavior has no place in our society.”
Greater Manchester Police have opened an investigation into the vandalism and are treating it as a hate crime. They are investigating surveillance footage and have increased patrols in the area.
Ian Levy, chairman of the Whitefield Synagogue Burial Board which runs the cemetery, told Manchester Evening News, “It’s a very difficult thing to get our heads around. Why is this happening? If you saw it, you wouldn’t believe it.
“It’s such a massive amount of damage, it’s a complete mess.
“Unfortunately, as Jewish people, we have been subjected to this abuse over many, many decades. It’s not a surprise, but it’s a huge upset. There’s still an awful lot of anti-Semitism around. I saw a guy whose grandad’s gravestone had been knocked over, he was heartbroken. Some of the graves go back to the 1950s.”