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Antisemitic graffiti discovered at Montgomery County high school

The principal of Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Md., told parents in a letter Saturday that antisemitic graffiti was found on an entrance sign. Montgomery County police are investigating. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)
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A vandal painted “Jews Not Welcome” on an entrance sign at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, just days after a schoolwide lesson on antisemitism, Principal Robert Dodd said in a letter to parents Saturday.

Montgomery County police are looking for the vandal. Montgomery County Council President Evan Glass (D-At Large) said county police also are investigating another instance of antisemitic graffiti discovered the day before, when someone painted a swastika at Montgomery Mall, which also is in Bethesda, four miles from the high school.

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“Antisemitism is on the rise in Montgomery County and the D.C. region. There are more and more brazen remarks being made that are chilling to Jewish people like me and the broader community,” Glass said, adding that he has noticed an increase in county residents reporting antisemitic incidents to him in his role as a council member.

Last month, police investigated antisemitic graffiti, including swastikas, hangmen, and white supremacist language, found in Bethesda. Other antisemitic graffiti was found on the Bethesda Trolley Trail in August.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), Gov.-elect Wes Moore (D), and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) were among the elected officials on Saturday who tweeted messages condemning the hatred.

“Sickened and horrified about another episode of antisemitic vandalism in our community, at Walt Whitman High School—on Shabbat and just before Hanukkah,” Raskin wrote. “Sending love and solidarity to Whitman students, families, faculty and staff. Hate won’t win in MoCo.”

The county council, which unanimously passed a resolution addressing antisemitism last month, issued a statement Saturday on the latest incident. “We are disgusted and angry to learn about yet another display of hate targeting the Jewish community in Montgomery County,” the statement read. “These acts are not only a desecration of public spaces but hurtful and damaging to the entire Montgomery County community.”

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Glass said he attended a presentation this week at a local synagogue to encourage Jewish residents to keep reporting instances of discrimination. “When people experience or witness antisemitism, they need to call it out. They need to notify the police. Students need to inform their teacher or principal,” Glass said. “There’s a rise in antisemitism. There’s a rise in homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia. Whatever the hate, we have to call it out whenever we see it.”

In his letter to parents, Dodd asked anyone with information about the vandalism at the high school to report it, and he urged parents to talk to students about antisemitism. He said the school’s Jewish Student Union had led a lesson on Wednesday for the entire school about antisemitism. That exercise included students’ accounts of their personal experiences at the high school.

Schools superintendent Monifa B. McKnight said in a statement on Saturday school district leaders were “deeply disturbed and saddened” by the vandalism. The school district, she said, tries “to foster an inclusive and welcoming environment that celebrates the diversity of our global community and all cultural backgrounds.”