Jewish community protests antisemitic vandalism in North Bethesda

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Community group protests antisemitic graffitti in North Bethesda

Community members came together Monday to stand against hateful, antisemitic graffiti found in three locations in North Bethesda. FOX 5's Lindsay Watts has the story.

Community members came together Monday to stand against hateful, antisemitic graffiti found in three locations in North Bethesda.

On Bethesda Trolley Trail in the Wildwood Manor neighborhood, it’s happened for the second time since August.

"It really does hurt to see it, especially when it’s right near you," said Billie Lieber, a high school sophomore who lives in the area.

She described her neighborhood as diverse and inclusive, finding it hard to believe the culprit or culprits live nearby.

Also Monday, about a mile and a half away on Old Georgetown Road and Tuckerman Lane, more antisemitic graffiti was found on a brick wall.

Then at a bus stop on Tuckerman Lane near Sugerbush Lane, red paint with the words "defend Bethesda" and "white power" covered the walls. 

Montgomery County police said they are investigating and calling on anyone with information or surveillance video to help find who’s responsible.

While the graffiti was scrubbed away by the evening, the hate wasn’t so easily erased in the minds of those in the Jewish community.

RELATED: Antisemitic graffiti in Bethesda: "The Jewish community will not be intimidated," says AJC director

Community leaders gathered with neighbors near the Trolley Trail Monday night.

"As a community, we have to come out and show solidarity with each other and make sure we all understand implications of such hate," Giorgio Kulp said. 

Alan Ronkin, a regional director of the American Jewish Committee, said there has been a normalization of antisemitism fueled recently by some high-profile people taking hate to the mainstream.

"We’ve seen an uptick in these kind of attacks," Ronkin said. "Unfortunately, they’re not limited to the kind of vandalism threats that you saw today. They happen online, they happen in person and I think there’s a lot of people that are getting extremely, extremely concerned."

Edoardo Kulp, who joined the gathering with his brother, spoke to FOX 5 about the security at his synagogue.

"I’m on a security committee for my synagogue, and we meet every week these days just to talk about incidents like this and how we can protect ourselves," he said. "And the fact that we have to go through that every week is ridiculous."

For those wondering what to do or how to help, Lieber offered this suggestion on how to support people in the Jewish community.

"Tell them you stand with them," she said. "Because to such a small group of people who experience quite a lot of hate and discrimination in America, it helps them a lot. And you know, to know that those people are there for you. It feels nice to know there’s support."

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich released a statement saying in part: "Antisemitism, hate, and attempts at intimidation, in any form, should not exist nor be tolerated anywhere, especially in a community like Montgomery County. I have had to personally deal with antisemitism throughout my entire life, and I have always hoped that there would be a day in my lifetime when it would no longer be a part of our society. Sadly, from pop culture icons to right-wing hate groups, we are witnessing a rise in antisemitism throughout this nation. I never imagined we would be at this place in the 21st century."