The Australian Jewish News (Melbourne) (June 1, 1990)

Vandals have desecrated some 50 graves in three Romanian cities in the last two weeks, nearly half of them belonging to Jews, officials said last week. In Poland, one of the country’s oldest Jewish cemeteries has also been desecrated, as reported by the London-based Institute of Jewish Affairs.

Romania’s state-run news agency, Rompres, reported that 28 Jewish graves were vandalized in the Jewish cemetery in the Transylvanian town of Tirgu Mures, whose Jewish community numbers 300 elderly people. Another eight graves were vandalized in the eastern city of Galati.

The desecrations caused outrage in the dwindling Jewish community of Romania, where latent anti-Semitism persists. There are some 20,000 Jews left in Romania, and many have applied for immigration visas to Israel.

Eleven of the 54 newly restored tombstones in Lublin’s Jewish cemetery, which dates back to the 16th century, have either been damaged or dragged out of the ground, according to Dr. Simha Wajs, chairman of the Society for the Protection of Relics of Jewish Culture in Lublin. One of the damaged tombstones is that of Rabbi Shlomo Luria, an eminent 16th-century Talmudist.

Meanwhile, 15 "skinheads" are being held for questioning by French police investigating the desecration of Jewish graves in the Carpentras cemetery. All are said to be close to a "satanic cult" linked with a rock-trend called "Trash Music."

Seven of the suspects have already been indicted in another case of desecration. Two years ago, after a night of heavy drinking, they excavated skulls from a cemetery in the vicinity of Albi, in the southwest.

The police are also trying to locate four "skinheads" who rented a van in Toulouse, abandoning it a few days later in the same region. The van was spotted in Carpentras several days before the act of vandalism.

Carpentras’s local daily, Vaucluse Matin, received a letter from the "Mohammed El-Boulcon" group, in which it claimed responsibility for the act.

In a typewritten statement, the letter ridiculed French Interior Minister Pierre Joxe, labeling him "Jew Joxe." It affirmed that "the six members" of the "commando" who desecrated the cemetery were present at the ceremony held in the graveyard on May 13 in the presence of French Chief Rabbi Joseph Sitruk and Joxe. It went on to say that the six were about to destroy the entire cemetery: "We would have done so, had we not been disturbed by people from the high school. We shall do it again somewhere else. Islam will conquer, Allah is great!"

The claim was not taken seriously by the police. Experts say the claim is a dear provocation by the extreme right, which is trying to implicate the Islamic community in the desecration of the graves.