Waikato Jewish community shocked by antisemitic graffiti

February 2, 2015 by J-Wire
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The Waikato Jewish community has issued a statement detailing anti-Semitic graffiti daubed on Hamilton’s Cenotaph.

The Cenotaph at Hamilton

The Cenotaph at Hamilton

Late on January  26, in Memorial Park there were  swastikas and anti-Semitic language stencilled and painted  on the Cenotaph,  walls and trees near the cenotaph. Before we were aware of it Mayor Julie Hardacker, aware of the memorial ceremony about to take place at that location, let us know about the situation and that the City was working quickly and in full force to remove all traces of this defacement.  And as you know, if you were in attendance, there was no trace of the graffiti by the afternoon.

The Hamilton Police have taken this event very seriously and are working quickly to arrest those responsible for this hate crime.  As a part of this event the Police requested a statement to be included in their case.  Our victim’s Statement below is included in the police report:

The Waikato Jewish Community was deeply shocked to learn of the extensive anti-semitic graffiti committed upon our city’s Cenotaph, on January 27. This shock was soon accompanied by feelings of fear and vulnerability, given that this attack occurred only hours before the time we were preparing to host a public memorial service for millions of our people who were victims of the Holocaust.

When we are confronted with swastikas, quotes and slogans used by the Nazi regime, and the hateful desecration of sacred places such as a cemetery or in this case the City war memorial, we experience it as a direct  assault on our existence as a people.  Our dismay is amplified by the further assault by these perpetrators, upon the memory of those who defended our nation from fascism. These acts, the words and symbols used, glorify the abominable Nazi death industry and the indescribable cruelty inflicted on so many millions of Jewish families and other innocent people. It provokes the deepest pain in Holocaust survivors, who narrowly escaped death, but saw most of their families exterminated. It further damages their wellbeing and continues to affect their descendants whose national, cultural and religious identities are challenged merely for existing . We are once again made to be victims of that terrible ideology and madness.

It is offensive enough to have people openly declare racist and hateful ideologies about Jews, but when the perpetrators hide themselves, we fear for our safety, our children’s safety. We fear for the safety of those who are prominent or identified as community leaders, and for all of our personal security at home or at any of our gatherings and events.. We feel targeted. We need to rely on our fellow citizens and our justice system to ensure our safety.

Regrettably, anti-Semitism has lurked for centuries beside Jewish communities throughout the world. As a result, we have sought places in the world where we can feel safe and, like every other law-abiding citizen, be able to contribute to our community, and to enjoy equal freedoms to exist in peace.  New Zealand is such a nation. But even here, anti-semitic acts are not relegated to the past or too far away locations – indeed we acutely feel its renewed growth in our midst now.  The mounting number of attacks on Jewish people world-wide increases our unease.  The proliferation of this kind of racism in our times, is exacerbated by unbalanced, unchecked rhetoric, polemic  and various acts of incitement.

It is our hope that those who perpetrate such acts are brought to justice, and those who are misguided are able to be re-educated to appreciate the damage they wreak upon others.

Geoff Levy, the president of the New Zealand Jewish Council said: “We note that all racial slurs against us causes fear, whether or not such slurs are open or covert.

We are certainly very much aware and on guard against anti-Semitism in whatever form it should be manifested.”

Hamilton Police told J-Wire: “A 44-yr-old man has been charged with intentional damage and will appear in court again on February 9th. He is known to police.”

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