Anti-Semitic backlash in New Zealand raises concerns for Jewish Leader
New Zealand is no longer a tolerant, prejudice free country for Jewish people following a report that anti-Semitism is on the rise according the NZJC.
New Zealand Jewish Council president Stephen Goodman says hate speech towards Jews was particularly prevalent on social media. He says those responsible needs to better understand the implications of their actions.
“A lot of anti-Semitism comes out of ignorance and thinking this is a fashionable thing to do. I don’t think that legislating really works. The real issue is education,” Goodman says.
A recent event in Queenstown has involved police who made contact with two men after anti-Semitic posters were placed around Queenstown Resort College.
A security camera image posted earlier on the Southern District Police Facebook page shows two men – one in dark glasses, camo pants and wearing a “Trump” t-shirt – entering the tertiary institute last week. The photo has since been removed from the police Facebook page.
News source Stuff was alerted anonymously to the Facebook page, which showed photos of the posters containing Nazi swastikas and anti-Jewish slogans. The images have since been removed.
The page’s spokesman, Adam Holland, said he was waiting for police to get back in contact about the matter but says it was “absolutely ridiculous” police were looking into the matter, he said.
“This looks like freedom of speech not hate speech.”
Senior Sergeant Paula Enoka says the matter is being be followed up.
Queenstown Resort College chief executive Charlie Phillips said the two men put the posters up and, once alerted to them, staff took them down and contacted police.
“It’s unrelated to anything at the college. We didn’t recognise the people,” Phillips said.
Mr Goodman’s response to the event raises concern around the motivation for such an attack saying: “I’m not sure what would have caused this, there are no Jewish students at the college.
“This sort of thing is not acceptable in New Zealand,” says Goodman.
This incident comes after an open letter signed by 27 prominent New Zealanders warned freedom of speech was under threat in the country’s universities.