Jewish headstones desecrated in Dunedin

February 16, 2015 by Keren Cook
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A Nazi swastika was painted on a headstone and two other headstones were knocked over and broken in an antisemitic attack at a Dunedin cemetery.

Damage to a Jewish headstone at Dunedin's Southern Cemetery. Photo by Gregor Richardson/Otago Daily Times

Damage to a Jewish headstone at Dunedin’s Southern Cemetery. Photo by Gregor Richardson/Otago Daily Times

Police were alerted and called to the Jewish section of the Southern Cemetery on Saturday, when the three vandalised graves were discovered.

Constable Greg Marsden confirmed that two of the headstones had been hit with so much force that they “have broken in half” and the third headstone had a swastika painted on it.

“It is a desecration”, he told the Otago Daily Times.

Andrew Spiegel, President of the Dunedin Jewish Congregation, says the Dunedin Jewish community are “extremely saddened”.

“We find this type of vandalism not only to be ignorant and stupid, but also state the underlying menace behind it is disturbing and worrying.”

Spiegel hopes the police will catch those responsible to see them “brought to justice”.

This is the second attack on Jewish gravestones in New Zealand within the past month.

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy has described an attack on Jewish graves in Dunedin as “gutless, shameful and ignorant” and urged anyone with information on the offenders to contact Police.

“It’s up to everyday Kiwis to decide what kind of country we live in: it’s up to us to let hatemongers know we won’t ignore them and we won’t stand by – please dob these people in,” said Dame Susan.

“New Zealanders of all ethnicities and religions have fought and died for our human rights.  We should remember and honour them by standing up for the human rights of those Jewish Kiwis whose final resting place was desecrated this week.”

“Less than a month ago I met with some of the most incredible New Zealanders I’ll ever meet, our own Kiwi Holocaust survivors.  Their testimony reminds us all that hate starts small: but so too does hope.”

Every year the Human Rights Commission responds to thousands of enquiries and complaints and  approximately a third of them are to do with racial discrimination.  This year marked the tenth year of the Commission’s Diversity Programme –  launched in the wake of attacks on Jewish graves in 2004.

The New Zealand Jewish Council have also been contacted about the incident.



3 Responses to “Jewish headstones desecrated in Dunedin”
  1. Peter Katz says:

    As American who has relatives buried in this cemetery, I am shocked that New Zealand authorities don’t punished this type of behavior. The criminals are more likely teenagers who need to be dealt with in the most severe manner. While I am not advocating “caning” like Singapore, these criminals need to be dealt with in two approaches: Education and punishment. The need to be sentenced to studying the era of the Holocaust while be sentence to hard labor – cleaning the streets – in order to get their hands dirty so they and others will think twice before vandalizing cemeteries.

  2. Cody Flecker says:

    This event might signal the time when all Jews vacate New Zealand for for Australia and or points elsewhere. There is no need to live and work in a country that harbors these anti semitic feelings. Jewish People know when it is time to move on, and it appears that this is the right time before worse events take place.

  3. Leon Poddebsky says:

    The New Zealand government’s anti-Israel diplomatic stance has given a green light to such perpetrators.

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