Bomb threats targeting synagogues and symbols of hate along Hawaii’s busiest roadway — the messages appear to be connected to a war 9,000 miles away.
Swastikas spray painted on H-1 Freeway road signs alongside Stars of David appeared in recent days, commuters say, and can be seen for about 10 miles heading into town.
“We think of Hawaii as the land of aloha, but seeing that kind of thing, it’s kind of an eye-opener for the rest of the things happening outside in the world,” said one Oahu resident.
State Transportation Director Ed Sniffen was also taken aback by the display.
His crews are now racing to clean up the symbols.
“I’ve been with the department since 2006 and I’ve never seen antisemitic or hate graffiti like this in the time that I’ve been here,” Hawaii DOT director Ed Sniffen said.
Whoever spray painted the signs is comparing the symbol of the Nazis, who killed 6 million Jewish people, to the Star of David, representing the Jewish faith and the state of Israel.
Hateful acts have been on the rise since the war broke out between Israel and Hamas.
The FBI is also investigating multiple bomb threats to Jewish temples in Hawaii.
“Very surprised. Still very surprised,” said Rabbi Itchel Krasnjansky of Chabad Hawaii, of the threat.
“We’ve been here since 1987 … and never experienced any antisemitism. Land of Aloha.”
Krasnjansky is holding a public menorah lighting on Tuesday evening in Waikiki. “Evil sometimes rears its head, and the stronger it comes out, it’s almost like a sign it’s on its last legs,” he said.
Psychiatric nurse practitioner Bradley Kuo says parents should be ready with thoughtful answers if children see the symbols on the roads.
“I think it’s worth the time and effort to address these issues head-on with our kids because our kids are going to ask those questions. They are going to be curious, and if parents say we are not going to talk about it … that might drive up the curiosity more,” Bradley Kuo said.
HPD reports no arrests so far, but encourages people to report any graffiti sightings.
In the meantime, The DOT says whoever is responsible could face fines and cleanup costs.
“Defacing the system like this damaging public property and potentially affecting people’s safety as you go on the system, absolutely unacceptable, and really not who we are,” Sniffen said.