The New Zealand Jewish community, like communities around the world, has been very shaken by the Texas synagogue hostage saga, which comes on top of years of increasing antisemitic hate crimes in America and elsewhere, including murderous attacks on Jews while at prayer.
We are of course relieved that, after a long terrifying ordeal, the hostages are free and physically unharmed. They have attributed this to their security training that prepared them for an active shooter scenario, and meant they identified an opportunity to escape and did so. The fact, however, that such training should be necessary and life-saving in 2022 America, speaks volumes. Entering a house of worship should not be an act of courage or defiance, but it increasingly is, as our Muslim community knows only too well, and we very much appreciate the support they have offered us in light of this most recent saga.
It is clear from his own words that the attacker was an Islamist who subscribed to antisemitic tropes about Jews controlling the world and believed by taking hostages in a small community synagogue he would be able to achieve his goal of freeing the convict Aafia Siddiqui. We will continue to do all we can to combat the world’s oldest hatred, antisemitism, in all its guises, and ensure Aotearoa is a safe, welcoming country for people of all races, ethnicities and religions.