London Holocaust library defaced with ‘Gaza’ graffiti

String of Jewish institutions and sites around the world vandalized with pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel, antisemitic slogans

Illustrative: The word ‘Gaza’ daubed in red paint outside the Wiener Holocaust Library in central London, November 2, 2023. (Via X)
Illustrative: The word ‘Gaza’ daubed in red paint outside the Wiener Holocaust Library in central London, November 2, 2023. (Via X)

JTA — A Holocaust library and research center in London was defaced with graffiti reading “Gaza,” the latest in a string of Jewish institutions and sites around the world that have been vandalized with pro-Palestinian slogans.

Staff at the Wiener Holocaust Library discovered the spray-painted graffiti on Thursday morning on a prominent sign affixed to a fence outside the building, which is the world’s oldest Holocaust library and research center. The center will be replacing its sign, director Toby Simpson told the Jewish News.

“To use ignorance as a weapon against an institution of learning is stupid and wrong. To lash out against Israel by targeting a Holocaust institution is an action that can only make sense to antisemites and their enablers,” Simpson said. “The proliferation of antisemitic hate in the current climate should be a matter of grave concern to us all.”

One day earlier, on Wednesday, a wall in a Jewish cemetery in Vienna was defaced with a swastika and the word “Hitler,” and someone set fire to the cemetery’s ceremonial hall, according to London’s Jewish Chronicle. Firefighters extinguished the flames. Austrian chancellor Karl Nehammer said in response to the incident, “Antisemitism has no place in our society and will be fought against by any political and legal means necessary,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center in New York City was graffitied with the words “Free Palestine” near the doorway. It is a Yiddish culture center in the Bronx that also rents space to Montefiore Medical Center, whose staff discovered the graffiti, according to the New York Post.

“Writing ‘Free Palestine’ or anything on a Jewish institution is an apparent attack against the Jewish community,” said Jeffrey Dinowitz, a New York State assemblymember representing the Bronx, in a statement. “Nonetheless, the act of vandalizing the Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center in the Bronx with the words ‘Free Palestine’ is not solely an expression of anti-Zionism; it has antisemitic connotations.”

In the Bronx, London and Los Angeles, Jewish sites have been graffitied with pro-Palestinian messages. (Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center picture via X; Wiener Holocaust Library via X; Canter’s Deli via ADL California)

Pro-Palestinian graffiti was also reported this week at Canter’s Deli, a Los Angeles Jewish deli that opened in 1931. “How many dead in the name of greed?” and other slogans were painted underneath a mural showcasing Jewish life in Los Angeles in an incident that local police are investigating as a hate crime.

And last week, a wall outside of a high school in Pittsburgh’s Jewish neighborhood of Squirrel Hill was graffitied with the words “Free Palestine from PGH to Gaza,” according to the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle. The graffiti was found shortly before the fifth anniversary of the synagogue shooting in that neighborhood, the worst antisemitic attack in US history. Multiple pro-Israel signs in the neighborhood were also graffitied. The high school’s principal condemned the graffiti as “hurtful and divisive.”

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