MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (DC News Now) — Montgomery County Councilmember Andrew Friedson hosted a town hall to discuss a rise in antisemitism with the community on Wednesday.

Between 2019 and 2021, antisemitic incidents in Maryland increased by 175 percent. A few weeks ago, the Bethesda Trolley Trail was tagged with antisemitic graffiti for the second time in just over three months. More antisemitic graffiti also was found on a brick wall at Old Georgetown Road and Tuckerman Lane.  

“If these people don’t speak out to condemn antisemitism and other forms of bigotry, it makes it seems like it’s permissible and that it’s something that’s okay to voice in society,” said Ron Halber, the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington.

“It’s about extremism that we’re seeing throughout the community, and it is just all over, it is rampant,” said Meredith Weisel of the Anti-Defamation League.

The Montgomery County Police Department’s 2021 annual report on bias incidents showed that “of the 34 incidents motivated by religious bias, 29 were considered anti-Jewish, despite Jewish persons making up only 10 percent of the population.”

“The police department cannot solve these problems alone,” said Chief Marcus Jones. “We want to protect people we want people to live in peace. … But at the same time, we have to come up with strategies to ensure that people are living in peace.”

Just last month, the council passed a resolution designed to combat antisemitism. Montgomery County also is the first local jurisdiction in the country that sets money aside to provide security at houses of worship. That effort was led by Councilmember Friedson.

“Right here in Montgomery County we’ve seen a Jewish Montessori school harassed and surveilled because of concerns of so-called indoctrination,” he said.