Americans paying close attention to the media on Wednesday were treated to a truly uncommon scene: a U.S. vice-president, armed with a rake, helped physically clean up a Jewish cemetery in Missouri that was desecrated by vandals over the weekend.
Pence’s visit to the Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery alongside Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens came amid a rash of threats against U.S. Jewish centers — pledges of violence that have created so much consternation that President Donald Trump finally spoke out against such evils in a statement made this past Tuesday.
VP Pence and Gov Greitens also pitch in for a few minutes to help clean up the desecrated cemetery. pic.twitter.com/DcGnqfZyXW
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) February 22, 2017
As the Daily Wire reported, 170 headstones were toppled over or damaged inside the cemetery, so Pence joined other volunteers in helping clean up the tragic scene; the vice-president also decried anti-Semitism during an address before media.
“People of Missouri are inspiring the nation by your love and care for this place, for the Jewish community in Missouri,” Pence said. “And I want to thank you for that inspiration, for showing the world what America’s really about.”
He also added, “There is no place in America for hatred or acts of prejudice or violence or anti-Semitism.”
After Pence’s comments about the vandalism, he picked up a rake and got to work on the clean-up effort. Footage shows the vice-president picking up sticks from the ground, raking and tossing debris in a trash bin.
Watch some of that unfold below:
While Trump was not on the scene for the clean-up, he did weigh in on the ongoing assaults and threats on Tuesday, decrying attacks on the Jewish community and saying that more work must be done to stop such antics.
“The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil,” the president said.
Since securing the presidency, Trump has faced numerous questions about anti-Semitism, with the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, among others, vocally criticizing the president for purportedly not handling the issue appropriately. But Pence’s visit actually earned praise from that organization, with executive director Steven Goldstein taking to Facebook to respond.
THANK YOU, VICE-PRESIDENT PENCE, FOR VISITING AND CLEANING THE DESECRATED JEWISH GRAVES IN ST. LOUIS. "We call them as…
“Pence proved to be the ultimate mensch by visiting, and even cleaning, the desecrated Jewish graves in St. Louis. Make no mistake: We have been critical of President Trump for his gross insensitivity to Antisemitism, including through his omission of Jews in Holocaust remembrance,” he wrote. “But through the Vice President’s visit to St. Louis today, this Administration finally showed America the kind of response our nation was waiting for all along — a response filled with proactive heart.”
So, there you have it. Pence’s visit clearly brought attention to an issue that’s creating fear among many American Jews.
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