Swastikas left at former synagogue, kindergarten in eastern France
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Swastikas left at former synagogue, kindergarten in eastern France

Strasbourg mayor says not a day goes by with an anti-Semitic incident, days after memorial for synagogue destroyed by Nazis toppled

Illustrative: A swastika is seen on a side wall of a former synagogue in Mommenheim, eastern France, March 4, 2019.  (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)
Illustrative: A swastika is seen on a side wall of a former synagogue in Mommenheim, eastern France, March 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

Vandals scrawled anti-Semitic graffiti on a former synagogue and left a swastika in front of a kindergarten in eastern France, the latest in a string of incidents that have caused nationwide concern.

Swastikas were discovered Monday on the door and facade of a building in the town of Mommenheim that formerly held a synagogue and has Hebrew lettering etched above its doorway.

The building now houses a sports facility.

In nearby Strasbourg, a piece of cardboard with an anti-Semitic message and a swastika was left in front of the staff entrance of a public kindergarten.

A swastika is seen on a the door of a former synagogue in Mommenheim, eastern France, March 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries said he was “stunned” by the resurgence of anti-Semitic acts in the area.

“Not a day goes by without there being an anti-Semitic act,” he said.

The incident comes days after vandals knocked over a monument to a synagogue razed by the Nazis in nearby Strasbourg.

The heavy memorial stone was found Saturday pushed off its base, in what Ries denounced Saturday as “a new anti-Semitic act.”

A cameraman films the memorial stone marking the site of Strasbourg’s Old Synagogue, which was destroyed by the Nazis in World War II, after it was vandalized overnight on March 2, 2019 in Strasbourg, France. (Frederick Florin/AFP)

“The site is itself a response to whoever did this repulsive act because it symbolizes both the exactions and horrors of the Nazi regime and the French people’s power of resistance,” he said.

The synagogue, which was built in 1898 and was the Strasbourg Jewish community’s main place of worship, was ransacked and burnt to the ground by Hitler Youth on September 30, 1940.

The region was already shaken on February 19 when 96 graves were daubed with swastikas at a Jewish cemetery in Quatzenheim, northwest of Strasbourg.

A surge in anti-Semitic violence and hate speech has prompted soul-searching for many in France, which has long wrestled with its history of discrimination and prejudice against Jews.

The number of anti-Jewish offenses reported to police rose to 541 last year from 311 in 2017, after falling for two years.

A picture taken on February 19, 2019, shows swastikas painted on graves at a Jewish cemetery in the French town of Quatzenheim close to the German border (Frederick Florin/AFP)

Dozens of Jewish cemeteries have been desecrated, and swastikas have been found scrawled on the doors of people’s homes. One elderly Holocaust survivor was even murdered in a grisly attack thought to be motivated in part by anti-Semitism.

Rabbi Nissim Sultan of Grenoble said last week that half of the regular members of the Jewish community in the city in eastern France have left due to anti-Semitism.

France, home to Europe’s biggest Jewish community, hopes that curbing incendiary hate speech online and an increased focus on anti-racism education will help cut down on the vandalism and threats.

Officials have blamed the rise of the economic yellow vest protests for some of the anti-Semitic surge.

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