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Jewish Gravestones in Australia Desecrated with Swastika Graffiti

New South Wales’ Jewish community is in shock after swastikas were found painted on gravestones in a Jewish cemetery in the Hunter Valley.

Police said up to 10 headstones were defaced with Nazi stencils or splashed with paint in what they said was a suspected hate crime. 

Officers from the Port Stephens command were called to the cemetery at Louth Park near Maitland on Tuesday. Police said all gravestones were being forensically examined and investigators have appealed for information from the public.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Darren Bark said the “vile” markings were “deeply distressing and concerning”.

“Vandalised Jewish gravestones were occurrences we witnessed in the Nazi era,” he said. “There is no place in our society for this terrible symbol. It is our collective responsibility to speak up against and call out this hate, wherever it appears.”

Superintendent Wayne Humphrey said the discovery was “absolutely” being treated as a hate crime.

“The degree of preparation and the extent of damage to the cemetery suggests nothing but that it’s been a deliberate planned act.”

The incident comes after a synagogue in the same area was found graffitied last month.

“My immediate response is a mixture of: ‘Oh my God, not again’ and ‘How does it happen in Newcastle’?” Maitland Rabbi Yossi Rodal said.

“I’m just very, very disgusted and shocked.”

Despite the alleged acts, Rabbi Rodal said he had not noticed “any change at all in terms of antisemitism in the last few years”.

“We can’t be more blessed to live in Australia where we do have religious freedom, but it’s always in the back of your mind that we do have antisemitism,” he said.

He said his grandfather and grandmother survived the Holocaust.

“These things get you a little bit uncomfortable and they remind you that you never want to be 100 per cent complacent.

“It’s kind of disturbing, people mark you as being different.”

Maitland Council has applied a white cleaning substance to the offensive graffiti, which will be removed after two weeks.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-03/nazi-symbols-headstones-nsw-police-investigate-hate-crime/101927068