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German police open probe into hack of Israeli Holocaust memorial event on Zoom

Government spokesman calls incident ‘a disgrace’ and Berlin expresses its deep regret to Israeli embassy and to survivor who was speaking when event was infiltrated

The Facebook invitation to the event (Screen capture/Facebook)
The Facebook invitation to the event (Screen capture/Facebook)

Berlin police confirmed on Wednesday that a criminal investigation had been opened into an anti-Semitic incident that took place during an online Holocaust memorial event organized by the local Israeli Embassy.

Unknown persons interrupted the Zoom meeting with Holocaust survivor Zvi Herschel late Monday by shouting anti-Semitic slogans and displaying photos of pornography and of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters Wednesday that the incident was “a disgrace, a despicable act.”

Seibert said the government expressed its deep regret to the embassy and to Herschel, who lost most of his family in the Holocaust. Herschel, who was born in 1942 in the German-occupied Netherlands, survived after being taken in by a Dutch Protestant family.

“The vast majority of Germans and the German government are firmly resolved to stand up to any form of anti-Semitism in our country,” Seibert added

In this picture taken May 7, 2019, Jeremy Issacharoff, the Israeli ambassador in Berlin, talks to media in Berlin, Germany. (Michael Kappeler/dpa via AP)

Israel’s ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff, said on Twitter that the event had to be briefly paused due to the disruption.

The session had was announced on the Israeli embassy’s Facebook site and was open to the public.

The Israeli embassy did not use the necessary security settings to prevent people from breaking into its Zoom session because it did not expect anyone to interrupt an apolitical event dealing with Holocaust memory, the ambassador said Tuesday.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the increased use of the teleconferences, a rise in so-called “Zoombombing” has been observed.

“In recent weeks, Jewish groups around the world have been harassed in Zoombombing incidents,” a report by the Anti-Defamation League issued earlier this month stated.

“Jewish schools, synagogues, nonprofit organizations, and cultural institutions have been targeted by antisemitic language and images specifically intended to offend and intimidate Jewish audiences.”

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