Dunedin residents exposed to holocaust denial literature in letterboxes

July 29, 2018 by Keren Cook
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Dunedin residents found leaflets dropped into their letterboxes, promoting anti-Semitic, Holocaust denial material.

Dunedin Synagogue now a commercial building

Dunedin holds a special place in New Zealand Jewish history. The Dunedin Synagogue was home for 43 founding members and opened in 1863. The building was used until 1881 and known as the world’s most southernmost synagogue. This structure is the southernmost permanent site, past or present, of a synagogue in the world.

Today, Jewish people continue to call Dunedin ‘ home’ and contribute to the wider Southland community. In 2013, New Zealand census data showed 6,867 people identifying as having a Jewish affiliation living in the country  out of the total New Zealand population of 4.5 million.

These leaflets were handwritten and photocopied in order to widely disseminate information that encouraged residents to download a book – notably a book that denied the Holocaust as a real, factual and historical event.

Opoho residents discovered these leaflets last Wednesday in their letterboxes.

The  Otago Daily Timesreported that Evans Street resident Allie Cunninghame looked up the name of the author and was “furious and also deeply shocked” to discover the leaflet promoted a book by a Holocaust denier.

Ms Cunninghame did not support the leaflet saying: “I want everyone in our neighbourhood and New Zealand to know they are welcome and can be safe here.

“We don’t want these people to get any publicity for their dreadful book,” she stated.

The Otago Daily Timeshas chosen not to name the book or its author.

Juliet Moses

Juliet Moses, spokesperson for the New Zealand Jewish Council says the leaflets were an insult to survivors of the Holocaust, in which six million Jews, along with Soviet prisoners of war, ethnic Poles, Roma, gay men, political opponents of the Nazis, and disable people, were murdered by Nazi Germany and its collaborators.

Reporting to the Otago Daily Times, Ms Moses said the leaflet drop echoed an incident earlier this year where anti-Semitic booklets appeared in Remuera letterboxes, a residential suburb in Auckland.

She also noted that anti-Semitic activity in New Zealand was on the rise, including graffiti, verbal abuse and desecration of headstones, but especially anti-Jewish sentiment on social media, which had been given a much larger platform to those whose abhorrent views would not normally be heard.

As little as three years ago, in 2015, a Jewish and Christian headstone in Dunedin’s Southern Cemetery were vandalised with graffiti of a large swastika, and three Jewish headstones were violently smashed.

This recent leaflet incident follows an incident seen in King Edward St, South Dunedin where several posters featuring slogans linked to neo-Nazis’ and white supremacists were plastered on walls.

The Holocaust Centre of New Zealand condemns the promotion of any material or commentary in New Zealand that denies the occurrence of the Holocaust or seeks to minimise its scale and well-documented planning and implementation, says Chair Jeremy Smith.

Anti-Semitic material recently distributed in the Dunedin area specifically promoted a book that denies the Holocaust.

“This kind of material is deeply offensive to our Survivors here in New Zealand, and also dishonours the millions of Jewish people who died in the Holocaust, along with Soviet prisoners of war, ethnic Poles, Roma, gay men, disabled people and political opponents of the Nazis”, said Mr Smith.

The Holocaust Centre of New Zealand upholds and believes in freedom of speech (even when we might find certain views highly objectionable, even abhorrent), but Holocaust Denial is in a category of its own, one based on a gross lie, a fundamental mistruth – namely, that the Holocaust never happened at all, or that it has been wildly exaggerated” Mr Smith noted further.

“This kind of commentary is, at its essence, hate speech with the consequence of promulgating wider ant-Semitism within our community. In New Zealand, we simply cannot allow hate speech of this kind to go unchallenged.

“As an organisation dedicated to Holocaust education and remembrance, we will always speak out against those who deny the Holocaust” concluded Mr Smith.


3 Responses to “Dunedin residents exposed to holocaust denial literature in letterboxes”
  1. Chaim Yankel says:

    and so what if it is offensive? Is everyone entitled to be shielded from offensive literature in your realm? I am not offended, why should I be denied the book? Freedom of Speech. Nobody has to believe the thesis of the book, by why is it censored so? No author, no title?

  2. Chaim Yankel says:

    It is telling that nobody will name the book. Is J Wire afraid that too many might want to take a peek at it? What other reason for withholding the title or author?

  3. Molly French says:

    All over the world the Jews have organisations in place that want to stop anyone looking too closely at the so-called Holocaust. If they are so sure of their case they should not fear investigation.

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