Seattle synagogue spray-painted with graffiti denying Holocaust

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 12, 2017 12:43 PM

By Daniel Trotta

(Reuters) - Vandals scrawled graffiti claiming the Holocaust was "fake history" on an exterior wall of a Seattle synagogue, leading the rabbi to urge President Donald Trump to more forcefully denounce a wave of anti-Semitic incidents in recent months.

Seattle police said they were investigating the vandalism at Temple De Hirsch Sinai as a hate crime after an off-duty officer spotted it on Friday.

"Holocaust is fake history!" read the spray-painted message, with each letter S written as dollar signs.

Rabbi Daniel Weiner linked the graffiti and a series of bomb threats against Jewish community centers since January to what he characterized as permissiveness of white supremacy from parts of the electorate during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

"A message needs to come from our president, not only decrying anti-Semitism but specifically indicting white supremacists and in particular those who support his candidacy," Weiner said, also referring to the bomb threats, vandalism against Jewish cemeteries and aggression against Muslims, Sikhs and immigrants.

Weiner did not blame Trump or his administration directly but regretted "the tone that has been set throughout the campaign," when white nationalists embraced the Trump campaign.

The rabbi left the message uncovered all day on Friday so that people "really experience this kind of naked and wanton hatred."

Trump has denounced the anti-Semitic incidents, notably at the start of his address to Congress on Feb. 28. Weiner welcomed the response even though he said he was "disheartened that it took cajoling and there was such a delay."

After the latest wave of bomb threats on Tuesday, the Trump administration denounced them "in the strongest terms," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said, promising to search for ways to stop them.

In more than a dozen countries, it is against the law to publicly deny that Jews were the victims of genocide in Europe during the Nazi era, but such speech is permitted in the United States under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Similar threats have also been reported in Britain, leading Scotland Yard and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate, officials said. Investigators said there is evidence that some of the U.S. and British bomb threats are linked.

The American incidents prompted all 100 U.S. senators last week to ask the federal government to help them enhance security.

More than 140 Jewish community center leaders also wrote to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions expressing frustration with the investigation.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Frank McGurty and Grant McCool)