update deskAntisemitism

Several US synagogues vandalized just days after deadly Pittsburgh massacre

Synagogue in Irvine, Calif., vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti • In Brooklyn, former Democratic activist arrested for vandalism, arson at several area synagogues.

ZAKA search-and-rescue USA volunteers work with the FBI at the scene of a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Oct. 27, 2018. Credit: ZAKA Search and Rescue USA.
ZAKA search-and-rescue USA volunteers work with the FBI at the scene of a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Oct. 27, 2018. Credit: ZAKA Search and Rescue USA.

Anti-Semitism reared its head again last week when the Beit Yaakov synagogue in Irvine, Calif., was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti overnight on Tuesday, just three days after a shooting massacre at Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

The suspect was captured on video and police in Irvine were investigating the incident.

Meanwhile, a political event scheduled for Thursday night at the historic Union Temple synagogue in Brooklyn Heights was canceled after anti-Semitic epithets that included “die Jew rats we are here,” “Jews better be ready” and “Hitler” were scrawled on the premises.

The police announced on Friday night that they had arrested James Polite, 26, on charges that he spray painted the anti-Semitic graffiti. He faces charges of criminal mischief, which the police classified as a hate crime, and making graffiti.

Polite has Jewish foster parents and was an intern for former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, for whom he worked on initiatives to combat hate crime. He was also a volunteer on former U.S. President Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign.

Polite was taken to a hospital in Brooklyn for a psychiatric evaluation.

Local police said on Saturday that Polite had also recently set a string of fires, including in the closet of Yeshiva Beth Hillel in Williamsburg, and smaller blazes in the trash receptacles outside three other nearby Jewish institutions, the New York Post reported.

In 2017, Polite was the subject of a New York Times profile, in which he was described as gay and bipolar.

The New York Post also reported that last year, Polite created an alter ego, “Abraham Aali,” on Facebook, and in the early-morning hours before Thursday night’s synagogue vandalism, he spewed in a post: “N–s have no soul or conscious [sic]. They’ll eat they’re [sic] own family before they do any kinda work.”

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