- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 24, 2023

One of the most diverse counties in the country is struggling to address a wave of antisemitic incidents that have left elected leaders frustrated and put the local Jewish community on edge.

Officials in Maryland’s Montgomery County say they have no suspects behind the rash of spray-painted White-power symbols, anti-Jewish slogans and other disturbances that have plagued the affluent suburban Washington county for weeks — including the latest incident in which Jewish homes in Kensington over the weekend were targeted with antisemitic fliers.

“If we knew, we would go shut it down and we’d find the people responsible,” County Executive Marc Elrich said during a Monday night appearance on WHUR news radio. “We’re trying to get the information. There are many theories. None of them have any evidence behind them right now.”



County leaders have condemned the vandalism and high school students across the area have staged demonstrations decrying the surge of antisemitic incidents.

“Hate will neither scare nor silence us,” said Evan Glass, the Montgomery County Council president, in a Monday statement. “This council stands in solidarity with our Jewish community, and we want to reiterate that we have zero tolerance for hate of any kind.”

Students at Winston Churchill High School and the private McLean School held walkouts Monday afternoon in a show of support for Jewish classmates and the broader community, according to Bethesda Magazine.

More walkouts are planned for next week at Poolesville High School, Quince Orchard High School and Montgomery Blair High School. Jewish people represent about 10% of Montgomery County’s population and account for almost half of Maryland’s Jewish population, according to the Berman Jewish DataBank.

The county, Maryland’s most populous, is also one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse regions in the nation, according to a 2021 WalletHub survey.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington and the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington announced Monday a reward of $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and indictment of those responsible for two previous antisemitic graffiti incidents.

One was at Walt Whitman High School in December, the other on the Bethesda Trolley Trail in November. Information for either case will result in a $2,500 reward. The groups said the reward expires July 21.

Graffiti of swastikas were also found near Old Georgetown Road and Tuckerman Lane in November around the same time that it was observed on the Bethesda Trolley Trail, according to WTOP.

The trail had been spray-painted swastikas and White power symbols in August as well.

Antisemitism across Montgomery County and the U.S. overall has surged, according to the ADL, which recorded the highest number of antisemitic incidents nationwide last year since the group started tracking over four decades ago.

The ADL reports that in 2021, Maryland saw a 17% increase in incidents compared to the previous year, with 55 incidents of harassment or vandalism, while the District reported a 23% increase (53 incidents, including two assaults). The upward trend continued in 2022, per the ADL.

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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