Antisemitism – since 7 October 2023

New Zealand Jewish Community denounces escalating antisemitism, silence from political leaders.

As the New Zealand Jewish community experiences unprecedented levels of antisemitic abuse, the New Zealand Jewish Council calls on political leaders, religious leaders and all of civil society to condemn antisemitism unequivocally.

Members of Aotearoa’s small Jewish community report feeling more vulnerable than they ever have in New Zealand. Incidents include physical threats and intimidation, threats to kill, vandalism of private and public property, online abuse, bullying of school students, targeting of businesses, placards at protests with violent antisemitic messages and grossly inflammatory language from religious and political leaders.

The community is particularly alarmed by a statement by the General Secretary of the New Zealand Board of Imams which uses incendiary language in a call to action against the “Zionist regime of Israel”, repeating, among other mistruths, that Israel was responsible for bombing the Al Ahli hospital – when international experts have concluded the rocket responsible originated from a Palestinian firing position in Gaza.

The statement also says that “every Muslim must feel involved in [the Palestinian] struggles and never remain silent…the world MUST [sic] take actions now. Tomorrow could be too late.”  It does not at any point specify that such “action” should be non-violent, nor does it condemn Hamas’s brutal massacre of Israeli civilians on October 7, or call for the release of Israeli hostages.  This statement has caused widespread distress to a community that includes many Israelis who are traumatized and grieving after the Hamas terrorist attack on Israeli civilians.

Such rhetoric puts our community, and the social cohesion of the wider community, at risk and we call on religious leaders of all faiths to act responsibly and to refrain from escalating tensions.

We also call on the leaders of all political parties – who have been notably silent as our community faces this escalation – to call out this growing antisemitism and not remain bystanders.

Juliet Moses, spokesperson for the New Zealand Jewish Council, says: “Many people have strong views about what is happening on the other side of the world. However, as Kiwis we must all strive to maintain a tolerant society and we call on leaders and authorities to make it clear that the antisemitism that is rapidly rising in all facets of life is unacceptable.”