(Washington, D.C., Dec. 23, 2019)—B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:
In a shocking act of anti-Semitism, anonymous vandals damaged 59 gravestones last week at a Jewish cemetery in Námestovo, Slovakia. The graves were knocked down and smashed. Although the extensive damage must have been the work of multiple people over a long period of time, no witnesses have come forward. In a letter to the Slovak ambassador to the United States, Ivan Korčok, B'nai B'rith called on Slovak authorities to investigate and find those responsible for the crime.
In our letter, we emphasized that “these vicious acts of vandalism come at a time of a global spike in anti-Semitic acts worldwide. Jewish communities depend on the active cooperation and support of national and local governments, together with law enforcement agencies, to protect the community against such incidents, and to vigorously pursue the perpetrators."
The embassy responded this week with the news that Slovak police have begun investigating. “You rightly underlined the need for national and local governments as well as law enforcement agencies to cooperate with the Jewish communities to protect them against such incidents, and to vigorously pursue the perpetrators. I cannot agree more," the embassy wrote in its response. "We surely have to join forces and step up efforts – in criminal justice and especially in education."
“With regard to the barbaric act in Jewish Cemetery in Námestovo, I would like to inform you that the investigator of the Slovak Police Department have already launched the process of criminal prosecution for criminal offense of defamation of the last resting place with the upper limit of the penalty rate of 5 years in prison. I strongly believe that the authorities will be able to find offenders of this shameful act soon and punish them according to the law.”
We trust and expect that the perpetrators of this horrific act will promptly be arrested and tried for their crimes. In a time when European Jews feel increasingly unsafe due to rising anti-Semitism, it is imperative that we confront and stamp out anti-Semitic hate wherever it is found.
B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit www.bnaibrith.org