Romania -- Jewish cemetery in Botosani Vandalized

I've just caught up with the news that the Jewish cemetery in Botosani, Romania was vandalized last month, and 24 tombstones were destroyed. The Bucharest Herald ran a graphic picture:

Photo: Bucharest Herald

From the picture, it seems as if the graves that were desecrated were in the most recent part of the cemetery.
According to the Romanian media, local police said that their initial investigation indicated that the desecration had been carried out by a group of seven youths.
“There are no signs that show it was a proof of anti-Semitism as there were no other signs or inscriptions. I think there were a few young persons under the influence of alcohol. It is a pity that the value and beauty of these old monuments were destroyed,” the local Jewish community president David Iosif told the media immediately after the attack.
The Romanian Center for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism, meanwhile, issued a communique criticizing Romanian authorities for excluding any anti-Semite motivation when such incidents take place.

"As much as we would like to believe the official position, we can not ignore – taking into account all previous incidents - the fact that the Jewish centers are preferred targets of the 'vandals'."

I visited the Botosani cemetery in 2006. There are several sections -- the more modern section is still in use by the tiny Jewish community. The older part of this features gravestones with metal canopies.

Behind the modern section is an older, rather overgrown, section where tombstones feature extraordinarily vivid carvings of lions and other animals, many of them clearly by the same artist/stone mason.

Botosani Jewish cemetery. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

Next to this cemetery there is an even older cemetery, also with elaborately carved stones, but when I visited it was almost impossible to enter because of the vegetation.

Botosani has one of Romania's most important synagogues -- very plain on the outside but with gorgeous interior wall and ceiling paintings dating from the early 19th century and an extremely elaborate carved and painted Ark that arches into the sanctuary.