Neo-Nazi graffiti was discovered outside a synagogue in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand.
Yellow swastikas were spray-painted on and near Temple Sinai, also known as the Wellington Jewish Progressive Congregation. The word “Heil” was also painted.
“One swastika was painted on the synagogue, one on a nearby fence and several others on the footpath and a fence on The Terrace,” a Wellington City Council spokesperson told Newshub. “People looking after the synagogue were able to paint over the swastika really quickly before the council got there to help.”
Temple Sinai chair Matthew Smith told New Zealand Media and Entertainment, “Events in New Zealand over the past year and beyond have left us with a sense of insecurity and vulnerability. I’m upset by it and outraged by it—that we are targeted like that—but at the same time I’m not entirely surprised.”
The graffiti comes as Israel holds the Fifth World Holocaust Forum and will commemorate on Jan. 23 the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp. New Zealand did not send any representatives to the event.
Gerry Brownlee, a foreign-affairs spokesperson for the opposition National Party, called the absence “disgraceful.”
“The Government has failed to send a single representative, not even the Governor-General or a Minister, to this significant event. We send Ministers and Members of Parliament to a number of events around the world, but not to this one,” he said. “The Holocaust was the most terrible crime against humanity; it is embarrassing New Zealand won’t be present at this event.”
New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters accused Brownlee of “politicizing” the commemoration.
“Gerry Brownlee’s statement is belied by National’s past inactions, and it is disappointing to see politicizing of such an event,” he told Newshub in a statement in which he mentioned that New Zealand didn’t send a representative to the past two forums in 2010 and 2015.