BY VANESSA LIM
Swastika graffiti has struck Bondi twice now, potentially distressing Holocaust survivors who may suffer from trauma and PTSD. The February swastika graffiti attack has been followed up by another attack in April at various places including the Bondi Beach murals.
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff denounced the anti-semitic graffiti. He said, “Swastikas represent the Nazi regime which this country fought so bravely against in World War II, and they also represent the ultimate in race hatred which can lead to mass murder and genocide”. COA Sydney, an organisation that provides care services to the senior Jewish community in Woollahra, shared its deep concern at the anti-semitic attacks. Chief executive officer of COA Sydney Rachel Tanny commented on how racist graffiti attacks affect the senior Jewish community.
Aged survivors relive trauma
She said, “As an organisation working in aged care, we provide services to many of the Holocaust survivors in our community. A lot of them still experience severe trauma and PTSD as a result of the brutal treatment the Nazis inflicted upon them and their families”. “Many of our local [senior] residents are the sole survivors of their entire extended families. To have to witness this [graffiti] occurring causes them to relive the trauma and fear they have already experienced in Nazi Germany.”
Waverley Mayor John Wakefield sympathised with the Jewish community.
He said, “We understand the extreme distress, anguish, fear and disgust that racist symbols can elicit, especially within Australia’s multicultural community and amongst all fair-minded people”.
Mr Wakefield condemned the swastika graffiti, saying, “Waverley Council is appalled by the graffiti attack that took place in February and April in parts of Bondi. Racism has no place in our culturally diverse community and we condemn the vandalism in the strongest terms”.
Vic Alhadeff commented that the anti-semitic graffiti wasn’t the only kind of attack to affect the Jewish community in the past few weeks.
He said, “There has been an alarming spike in anti-semitic incidents in recent weeks. From the swastikas at Bondi Beach to appalling posts on social media and targeting members of parliament who happen to be Jewish”.
The most notable example is Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, a Jewish member of parliament, who has experienced anti-semitic attacks online. He has also been a victim of anti-semitic graffiti attacks against him on his election posters.
The recent anti-semitic attacks have disappointed Ms Tanny, who labels Australia as a “free and safe” country.
She said, “This is Australia – a country where we are supposed to be free and safe – a pledge which these survivors made when they became Australian citizens. For them to have fled persecution to find it dogs their steps in this country is positively shameful. Of all the places, for survivors, their descendants, and really any Jews at all to have to see this hateful vandalism when they walk along the peaceful ocean is especially cutting”.
Vic Alhadeff agreed that there was no place for anti-Semitism in Australia. He commended the efforts that Waverley Council and the federal government have taken to minimise anti-semitic attacks.
He said, “All forms of bigotry are abhorrent and this is not what Australia is about. We applaud the federal government for committing funds for CCTV cameras at Bondi and we applaud Waverley Council for acting on this important issue so quickly”.
Ms Tanny also emphasised the necessity to fix the issue.
She said, “To be honest, I am particularly shocked that this has happened more than once. From the very first instance this occurred there should have been proper lighting and cameras installed on the same day”.
This concern for more CCTV cameras has been addressed by the Waverley Council, which is now installing more CCTV cameras around Bondi.
Increased security measures
Mayor Wakefield said, “Waverley Council is committed to maintaining public safety at Bondi Beach through various security measures including ranger patrols and CCTV surveillance, which is currently in place and is being increased”.
Waverley Council emphasised its concern for the safety and inclusiveness of the local community.
Mr Wakefield said, “Waverley Council strives to ensure that our beautiful and vibrant part of the world remains welcoming, strong, inclusive, resilient and fair”.
Waverley Council has also been open to working with the federal government on this matter. “We welcome any support from the federal government to help us continue to improve safety at Bondi for our vibrant and inclusive community and millions of visitors each year,” Mr Wakefield said.