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Photo/Ken Downie

Swastikas spray-painted on Wellington synagogue

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.

A 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.

"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."

Related articles: Being Jewish in New Zealand and the concerning rise of antisemitism| Is New Zealand a tolerant society?