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Families reel over Jewish grave vandalism

Published: 3:06PM Saturday October 20, 2012 Source: ONE News

Relatives of those buried at a Jewish Cemetery in Auckland are reeling over the desecration at the historic site.

Police are looking over CCTV footage after 20 graves were graffitied with anti-Semitic obscenities, including Nazi swastikas, at the cemetery in central Auckland two days ago.

Rosemary Keay, who has family buried at the Karangahape road cemetery, is taking the vandalism personally.

"When I first saw it, I was very, very angry," said Keay.

"I wanted to sit here and cry but I'm so angry I can't cry&it just broke my heart," she said.

Her brother Bill is also disgusted.

"These are the graves that helped build this fantastic city and country of ours and low-life scums came along and mindlessly attacked the graves," Bill said.

The attack has been blamed on the far right organisation The National Front, but they are denying any involvement.

"I condemn the people that actually desecrated those graves because graves are something sacred. They're something personal to those who are buried and their families," said National Front leader Colin Ansell.

Conservationists are now investigating how to remove the graffiti without causing damage to the soft stone used to construct the historic headstones. Only four of the graves have been repaired since the attack.

Auckland Council is looking to step up security at the cemetery, while police are still urging anyone with information to come forward.

Grave vandalism likened to Holocaust 'ignorance'

The vandalism has been labelled a "repeat of the ignorance to the living and the dead during the Holocaust period" by the leader of a New Zealand Jewish organisation. 

The New Zealand vice president of the oldest Jewish service organisation in the world, B'nai B'rith International, said he was shocked and appalled by the attack.

"Such hate behaviour is abhorrent, discriminatory and criminal whether it is targeted at Moslems, Christians, Jews, Maori's or other sects," said Professor Jim Salinger.

"There is no room in a civilized society to accept this blatant, disgraceful and thoughtless act of wilful damage."

The attack has been widely condemned by religious leaders as well as the Israeli Embassy.

The latest attack is not the first time the Cemetery's more than century-old Jewish quarter has been targeted by vandals.

Two headstones had to repaired at a cost of thousands.