SEATTLE SYNAGOGUE VANDALIZED

ANTI-JEWISH AND ANTI-ISRAEL MESSAGING SCRAWLED ON JEWISH CENTER

On the eve of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood was vandalized with antisemitic graffiti. Congregants arrived to find their historic synagogue covered in spray-painted messages, which, although difficult to read, appeared to say “Israel Has Lied” and “Understand the Apartheid.” This is the second time this synagogue has been desecrated, the previous instance being in May 2017 when the synagogue was vandalized with graffiti claiming that “The Holocaust is fake history.”

In recent years, some anti-Israel activists and academics have attempted to separate antisemitism from anti-Zionism, condemning the former, but not the latter. However, hate crimes such as the recent vandalism against the Jewish community in Seattle and the protest signs equating Judaism and Nazism from a rally this Sunday in Toronto illustrate the convergence of anti-Zionism and antisemitism.

Activists from groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, along with Jewish studies academics like Liora Halperin of the University of Washington, campaigned earlier this year against the King County Council’s use of the internationally supported IHRA definition of antisemitism. Their argument was that the IHRA definition improperly conflates anti-Zionism which they see as distinct from antisemitism, a point in which the ADL, the AJC, and virtually all mainstream Jewish organizations disagree. However, the recent act of vandalism against Temple De Hirsch Sinai is just another example in a long line of incidents that demonstrate that those who hold anti-Semitic views, whether expressed through vandalizing synagogues, perpetrating violence against Jews, or advocating for the destruction of Israel, are all driven by the same ancient and still-present disease of antisemitism.