The words “Jews Not Welcome” were spray-painted on an entrance sign outside Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland, near Washington, D.C., this weekend, and local police have launched an investigation to identify the vandal.
“This behavior is abhorrent, extremely hurtful, and will not be tolerated at Walt Whitman High School,” Principal Robert Dodd wrote in a letter to parents on Saturday.
MCPS is deeply disturbed and saddened by the antisemitic graffiti found outside of Walt Whitman High School. Read the full statement from Superintendent Dr. McKnight and the community letter from Principal Dodd https://t.co/v36k9HmGOi
— MCPS (@MCPS) December 17, 2022
Just last Wednesday, Dodd noted, members of Whitman’s Jewish Student Union had led classmates through a “lesson on confronting antisemitism.”
Montgomery County Police Department Chief Marcus Jones stated, “Acts of hate and bigotry are on the rise across the country and in Montgomery County. Officers are also actively increasing patrols to include community centers, schools, and places of worship throughout the county.”
— Montgomery County Department of Police (@mcpnews) December 17, 2022
The incident was widely condemned by top political leaders in Maryland, including Governor Larry Hogan, Governor-elect Wes Moore, Senator Chris Van Hollen, Congressman Jamie Raskin, and Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, among others.
“We must stand with our Jewish neighbors,” Moore said. “Antisemitism and hatred have no place in Maryland. All Marylanders deserve to feel safe in their communities and in their identities.”
Van Hollen commented, “Silence in the face of abominable actions like these is not an option.”
On Sunday night, a menorah-lighting ceremony was held at Whitman to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah.
So much Chanukah spirit in Bethesda tonight! There are multiple menorah lightings happening, including here at Bethesda Trolley Trail & later at Whitman HS where antisemitic graffiti was found just yesterday. The focus is unity and light over darkness. https://t.co/FlsFskRt5u pic.twitter.com/OolbY7GNbH
— Lindsay Watts (@LindsayAWatts) December 19, 2022
Earlier this year, the Montgomery County Council adopted a resolution endorsing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism as a “useful educational tool, among other resources, concerning the identification of discrimination rooted in antisemitism and for discussions to address such discrimination.”