Commonwealth graves desecrated with swastikas in Haifa

October 13, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had condemned the desecration of dozens of graves in a Commonwealth military cemetery in Haifa.


Around 340  Commonwealth are buried in the cemetery where headstones were daubed with swastikas in red paint.

The soldiers were casualties of both of the First and Second World Wars.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its disgust with the vandalism to war graves at the British war cemetery in Haifa.

A spokesperson stated: “We wholeheartedly condemn this hate crime, in which those responsible chose to smash and draw swastikas on gravestones of Commonwealth soldiers killed during the two world wars.

The incident is being investigated by the Israel Police. We expect a swift and successful conclusion of the investigation, at the end of which the perpetrators will be brought to justice.

We thank our partners from the British Commonwealth countries and especially the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) for their commitment and actions to repair the damage and to restore the cemetery to its previous high standard.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “The desecration of the graves of the World War I heroes in Haifa is an abhorrent crime. We owe these soldiers a historical debt for the liberation of the Land of Israel from Ottoman rule. We are doing everything necessary to find those responsible and bring them to justice.”








Peter Wertheim, co-CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry said: “A despicable act of cowardice against the memory of gallant Australian and other Commonwealth soldiers of both world wars who made the supreme sacrifice in fighting for our freedom and a better world. The Israeli authorities must spare no effort to identify those responsible, and to bring them to account with the full severity of the law”.

President of the Zionist Federation of Australia Jeremy Leibler added: “We were disgusted to learn that vandals had spray-painted swastikas and Nazi slogans on the gravestones of Commonwealth soldiers in a British military cemetery in Haifa. The desecration of any grave anywhere is inexcusable and we trust that the authorities will find the perpetrators and deal with them appropriately.” 

A strong bond was created between Australia and Israel due to the sacrifice of our Diggers, a bond that neither country takes for granted. 

Late last month, a moving ceremony took place not far from Haifa at Semakh to unveil a statue “the Aboriginal Soldier and his Horse” in memory of the Australian Soldiers who fell in Israel in WWI and in the  Battle for the Semakh Train Station on 25th of September 1918.

Moriah Ben-David, ZFA’s Israel Office Director represented the ZFA and the Australian Jewish community at the ceremony. She said, “The spirit of the horsemen brigade of acceptance, of tolerance, and of brotherhood are values that we share as countries and as nations- Australia and Israel. 

Australia and Israel promote these values and work together to better the world according to these ideals. 

As a representative of the Zionist Federation of Australia, I feel privileged to help be the bridge between these two nations and deepen the connections so we can work together to spread acceptance, friendship, respect and equality.”

“The graffiti attack was a despicable act, which promotes feelings of revulsion and disgust. It is not simply an example of vandals employing racist symbols but was a desecration of the graves of men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice when they served Australia and the Commonwealth. It is to be hoped the perpetrators are speedily identified and punished appropriately “, Jeremy Jones, AIJAC’s Director of International Affairs, said today.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told media during his visit to Fiji: “This is disgusting, it is appalling and it is nothing other than just hate-filled desecration of our own diggers, our light horsemen. And it is terribly upsetting. Not just obviously for the families, and the descendants of those brave Australians, but, you know, we are seeing too much of this. I mean, we shouldn’t see any of it.

But, you know, if we kid ourselves that we are only seeing this over in war graves in another part of the world, well, have a look at some of the graffiti you see around Melbourne or Sydney these days. What we are seeing with that antisemitic commentary and aggression and graffiti and being directed towards the Jewish community, I just find absolutely appalling, absolutely appalling.

What should we do? We have to make sure that we act in concert with those who are responsible for our war graves and to support them in the actions they are taking. But it should be a reminder that in our own country, we can have zero tolerance of this sort of antisemitic conduct which is happening in Australia. People have been targeted, including our colleagues, as members of Parliament, have been targeted with antisemitic trolling on their Twitter accounts, defacing of their images. We are seeing in our own country, so let’s not kid ourselves. It is close to home, and it has got to be stamped out.”

Yuval Rotem, Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a former ambassador for Israel to Australia, stated that he was “shocked and appalled by the despicable act of vandalism.”

“We are forever committed to honor the memory of Commonwealth soldiers who sacrificed their lives fighting in the region,” he said.

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