Jewish centre defaced with swastika in Ljubljana, Slovenia

A Jewish Cultural Center was vandalised with a swastika in Ljubljana, Slovenia, which was the first such reported incident since the escalation of the Israel-Hamas conflict in the Middle East.

The Jewish Cultural Center was found vandalised with a black swastika on 16 November in the Slovenian capital. The centre hosts a Holocaust museum, a Jewish museum and a synagogue, while an exhibition on Anne Frank is currently on display there as part of the House of Tolerance festival.

While a police investigation of the incident is underway, the swastika and the star of David with an equals sign between them have already been removed from the Jewish centre’s door. The vandalism has drawn widespread condemnation, reports The Slovenia Times.

„Never in our worst nightmares could we have imagined that we would ever see a freshly painted swastika in one of Europe’s most peaceful cities,” Robert Baruh Waltl, head of the Liberal Jewish Community of Slovenia and director of the centre, wrote in response.

While the mission of the centre and affiliated institutions is to make sure that attacks on Jews will never happen again, „we have just received a very important piece of evidence that it is happening again,” he said, adding that „this is an attack on all of us who live in the prosperity of the free world.”

Calling for resistance to hate and fanaticism in Slovenia, he said, „This is not the Middle East – Israel or Palestine. This is our state. This is Slovenia,” and urged people to attend the ongoing festival of tolerance en masse.

The hateful graffiti on the door of the Jewish centre has met with widespread condemnation, including from the ministers of foreign and interior affairs, the Slovenian delegation at the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and the German Embassy.

„Hate symbols are not a free expression of opinion, and they do not strengthen democracy. Hate speech is extremely damaging to human dignity. It is our duty to condemn hate speech in the strongest possible terms and to fight against it unceasingly,” wrote Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon.

Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar strongly condemned the incident and „incitement of any hate and intolerance of the Jewish community in Slovenia,” adding that police presence was beefed up around Jewish cemeteries and synagogues immediately after the war broke out in the Middle East to prevent such incidents.

Members of the diplomatic corps gathered in front of the Jewish synagogue to express solidarity with the Jewish community in Slovenia.