Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Anti-Semitic Vandals Deface Edmonton Synagogue

Anti-Semitic vandalism seems like a trend this holiday season.

Full Story Here:

A swastika and another anti-Semitic message spray-painted on the side of Edmonton's largest synagogue on Christmas Eve offends not only Jews but all Edmontonians, religious leaders said Monday.

The police department's hate crimes unit is investigating the act of vandalism, the latest of several attacks at Beth Shalom Synagogue in the past five years.

Officials from four Christian denominations and Muslim, Sikh and Unitarian faiths rallied around Rabbi David Kunin to denounce the graffiti.

The timing, on Christmas and as the eight-day Hanukkah festival began, made it even more sickening to them.

"We're standing together, saying that we need to move forward to create a season of light, not a season of darkness as these things represent," Kunin said.

The others spoke out in solidarity with the rabbi.

"It is the kind of act I think that all of us understand is not a part of what Canada is," said Larry Shaben, Alberta's first Muslim cabinet minister and a member of the Edmonton Interfaith Centre.

Suzanne Cowles, a former Lutheran pastor, urged Edmontonians to be vigilant against racism because "it can happen here and obviously it has."

Beth Shalom officials were alerted to the crude symbols Sunday morning. A metre-wide black swastika and the letters 'ZOG' appeared with a circle and line through it appeared on the Jasper Avenue synagogue's southwest corner.

ZOG stands for Zionist Occupation Government. This is a body imagined in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, common in white supremacist literature, that suggest Jews control the U.S. government and other global seats of power.

Kunin said the slogan, coupled with the fact the swastika was diagonal in the Nazi fashion, suggests the perpetrator was no petty vandal, but more likely someone more versed in anti-Semitism.

A security camera rests almost directly above the graffiti. Police are reviewing the surveillance footage in their attempts to find the culprit, who likely acted late on Christmas Eve, Kunin said.