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Another Wave Of Bomb Threats Targets Jewish Community Centers

Adults and children return to St. Louis Jewish Community Center on Jan. 18, in St. Louis after canine units cleared the building. According to St. Louis County Police, someone called the front desk claiming a device was inside.
Laurie Skrivan
St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP

Several Jewish community centers across the U.S. were targeted by bomb threats on Monday, according to the JCC Association of North America, in the fourth wave of such threats in the past two months.

In total, there have been 69 threats at 54 JCCs, in 27 states and a Canadian province, the organization reports — including previous threats on Jan. 9, 18 and 31, as well as 11 threats by telephone on Monday.

No bombs have been found, the organization says, and all the centers affected have "returned to regular operations."

Also on Monday, a century-old Jewish cemetery in Missouri discovered apparent vandalism of dozens of headstones.

St. Louis Public Radio reports that police in University City are investigating the vandalism by examining footage from surveillance cameras:

"Photos and video of the damage at show clusters of headstones that have been toppled. University City Lt. Fredrick Lemons told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Monday that authorities are keeping all options open, but wouldn't say whether the vandalism is being investigated as a hate crime.

"It wasn't immediately known when the damage happened."

President Trump had been criticized for his lack of response to previous waves of threats against Jewish community centers. At his news conference on Thursday, a reporter asked what the government was planning to do about the threats, and Trump responded as though he had personally been accused of anti-Semitism. He called the question "insulting," without addressing the bomb threats.

But on Tuesday morning, during remarks at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, Trump directly addressed the waves of threatening phone calls.

He said his tour of the museum "was a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms," and continued:

"The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful, and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil."

The president's daughter Ivanka Trump, who is Jewish, also commented on the attacks, without using the words "anti-Semitism" or "Jewish." On Twitter, she wrote, "America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers. #JCC."

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Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.
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