Store, Owner Targets Of Ethnic Slurs

Posted: July 08, 1986

Swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans were painted on the walls of an Ardmore

dress shop over the weekend by vandals who also stole thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, Lower Merion Township police said yesterday.

Police said vandals broke in through the rear door of the Bellissima dress shop at 17 E. Lancaster Ave. between Thursday and yesterday morning. The store had been closed for the Fourth of July weekend.

"We have seen, from time to time, isolated incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism, but something of this nature is unusual," said Lower Merion Township Police Lt. Richard Cordivari. "I have not seen anything this extensive in quite a while."

Cordivari said that police had no suspects and were pursuing the incident as a burglary with related vandalism.

The owner of the shop, Nava Antar, said she arrived at her store about 9:30 a.m. yesterday to find the rear door open and merchandise and furnishings strewn over the floor. In addition to the slogans that covered the walls and dressing rooms, she said, the carpeting had been partially ripped up and fixtures had been broken.

Antar, who was born in Israel, said she opened her shop in April without incident and had been doing well. About two weeks ago, she said, she began receiving nuisance telephone calls at the shop and at her Philadelphia home.

The calls began, she said, about the same time that a feature article appeared in a neighborhood newspaper identifying her as Israeli-born and mentioning that she lived in Philadelphia.

Antar said the shop had been closed last week while she took inventory and prepared to display her new fall merchandise. She described the merchandise as "high fashion" and said the new fall clothing, which was stolen by the vandals, was worth "tens of thousands" of dollars.

Barry Morrison, regional director of the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation League in Philadelphia, an organization that prepares an annual audit of anti- Semitic vandalism, said that anti-Semitic incidents did not appear to be increasing significantly in the Philadelphia suburbs.

"There is no indication that there is a growing pattern that Jews or Israelis have been singled out for incidents of harassment," he said yesterday.

Antar said she was dismayed by the incident but planned to reopen her shop.

"This country is supposed to be made up of immigrants," she said. "It became what it is because of that."

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