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Anti-Semitic desecration in Hamilton

Hamilton’s Memorial Park has been desecrated with anti-Semitic graffiti on the Cenotaph, walls and trees.

Geoff Levy, lawyer for Rutherford Legal says: “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.”

Memorial park is a destination park and was established as a WWI memorial. The park is a key feature of Hamilton’s central city and contains memorials to various wars, events and communities significant to Hamilton.

This time there were Swastikas and anti-Semitic language stencilled and painted on the Cenotaph.

Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardacker worked hard to swiftly clean up the area. The City Council had all traces of the graffiti removed by the same afternoon.

The timing of the attack was critical as the Waikato Jewish Community was only hours away from a memorial service that commemorates the annihilation of the six million Jews that died in the Holocaust.

The Waikato memorial service aligned itself with the ‘United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Day’ which commemorates and honours victims of the Holocaust all over the world.

Hamilton Police are working to arrest those who are responsible for this hate crime.

The Waikato Jewish community have been invited to respond to this incident and their victim statement is seen in the police report below:

“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.

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 d 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.”

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Keren Cook
Keren is currently working as a casual presenter at NZME and freelancing as a journalist and Director and voice over-artist. She recently project-managed New Zealand's Jewish Online Museum, and co-hosts a regular show at Planet FM.
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