Pence makes surprise visit to vandalized Jewish cemetery

Vice President Pence on Wednesday made a surprise visit to a historic Jewish cemetery near St. Louis to condemn the recent vandalism that took place there. 

“From the heart, there is no place in America for hatred or acts of prejudice or violence or anti-Semitism,” he said. 

Pence called Missouri’s response to the incident “inspiring" while standing next to Eric Greitens (R), the state’s first Jewish governor. 

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Pence decried the vandalism as “a sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil” during a speech earlier Wednesday in St. Louis. 

After his remarks at the cemetery, the vice president and the governor listened to a prayer from a rabbi and then cleared brush with volunteers taking part in a beautification project.

Vandals toppled more than 100 headstones on Monday at the Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery in University City, a suburb of St. Louis. 

The incident added to questions about a rise in acts of anti-Semitism around the country. 

The vandalism occurred on the same day that 11 Jewish community centers across the country received phoned-in bomb threats. The calls, which have all turned out to be hoaxes, have targeted 54 community centers in 27 states so far this year. 

Federal investigators are looking into the threats. 

President Trump on Tuesday condemned the anti-Semitic acts after coming under pressure from Jewish groups, who criticized his previous response to the incidents as lackluster. 

“Anti-Semitism is horrible and it’s going to stop and it has to stop,” Trump told MSNBC during a tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.