Austin police probe possible synagogue arson, a week after antisemitic banner display

US police in Austin, Texas, are investigating a possible case of arson after a fire was lit outside a synagogue there last night.

The fire was discovered just one week after banners emblazoned with the words “Vax the Jews” were hung by a neo-Nazi group from an overpass near a number of synagogues and the Jewish Community Center.

The Austin Fire Department’s arson investigators responded to the fire at Congregation Beth Israel, located about five miles (eight kilometers) from the JCC. There were no injuries.

While it is not yet clear if the fire was intentionally set in an act of antisemitism, the fire follows a series of antisemitic incidents in Austin in recent weeks.

On October 24, Members of the Goyim Defense League, a neo-Nazi group whose name mocks the Anti-Defamation League, hung banners with the message “Vax the Jews” from an overpass near a number of synagogues and the Jewish Community Center, called Shalom Austin. Though officers from the Austin Police Department responded to the antisemitic banner demonstration, similar banners were hung from the same overpass just a few days later on October 26.

The banner incident came just a few days after racist and antisemitic graffiti was discovered at Anderson High School, about a mile and a half away from the JCC.

Shalom Austin had responded to the initial banner incident with a message to the Jewish community warning of possible further acts of antisemitism in the days to come.

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