Swastikas daubed on Wellington synagogue wall

January 23, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Swastikas have been spray-painted outside a synagogue in Wellington, worrying Jewish community members.

Members of the Wellington Jewish Progressive Congregation were greeted with fluorescent yellow swastikas at the Temple Sinai on Ghuznee St and the word “Heil” which also appeared in several other inner-city locations, this week. Police say they are investigating.

The Holocaust Centre of New Zealand said in a statement it is appalled and concerned by the recent use of Nazi symbols and actions of intolerance and antisemitism.

swastika was carved into a Māori carving near Piha beach last week and The Wanaka Sun reported a man leaning out of his car yelling “I am a Nazi” and raising his arm in a pro-Nazi salute at anti-rodeo protestors, at a recent rodeo event.

Antisemitic actions have been seen globally with extreme acts of violence at shootings in synagogues in Pittsburgh, USA; San Diego, USA; and Halle, Germany.

There’s a recent pattern of violence against the Jewish commmunity, and other religious communities, Dave Moskovitz, former president of the Congregation, told Radio NZ.

“It started here with March 15 against Muslims… there’s this pattern of religious violence around the world so naturally, Jewish people in New Zealand are very concerned.”

But despite this, he said New Zealand generally is a welcoming country to religious people and when the swastikas were painted building contractors working next door to the synagogue immediately painted over them.

Dave Moskowitz said: “Those are the sorts of ordinary New Zealanders who are the true heroes here, who stand up against acts of racism and it’s really up to all of us to stand up against those small acts of racism.”

“It starts with name-calling, then moves on to graffiti and racist jokes and before long, it’s knocking over gravestones and then you have 15 March, it’s all part of a continuum.”

The Israeli Embassy in Wellington has shown its support to the Wellington community,

In a statement, they said: “The Embassy of Israel in New Zealand condemns in the strongest possible terms the recent acts of antisemitism that were carried out in Wellington, where a synagogue and other locations in the city were defaced with swastikas.

These vile anti-Semitic acts took place as the Fifth World Holocaust Forum commences to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

We must stand together in the fight against antisemitism.”

Matthew Smith, the Chair of Temple Sinai said: “This disgusting incident is alarming to both Temple Sinai and the wider NZ Jewish community. However, given the current climate of intolerance and rising antisemitism its occurrence is not entirely surprising.

While it may be a random act of antisemitism, with the upcoming the United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Day on the 27 January and the Fifth World Holocaust Forum, it does not seem entirely coincidental.

We are concerned that once again Jews are being targeted in New Zealand and are being made to feel unsafe at their place of worship. The problem is small incidents like this can escalate and embolden like-minded purveyors of hate. It behoves us to take this incident seriously and continue to challenge all forms intolerance and hate in our society.

It also reinforces the NZ Jewish community’s call for government support to ensure the safety and security of our community as well as that of the Moslem community in New Zealand.


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