Swastika made of feces found at Rhode Island school


A swastika made with human feces was found in a dormitory bathroom at the Rhode Island School of Design.

The existence of the swastika was confirmed by the school on Thursday, but reportedly was discovered a week ago.  It was discovered in a gender-neutral bathroom, according to reports.

“This level of disrespect and vitriol is completely unacceptable and RISD Public Safety is investigating it as both an act of vandalism and a crime of hate,” a statement from the school said.

The incident is being investigated as an act of vandalism and a potential hate crime, Rhode Island Public Radio reported.

These two notes were left on a house neighboring Chabad of Oak Park in February. Photo courtesy of Rabbi Yisroel Levine

Anti-Semitic incidents probed in Ventura County


The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department (VCSD) is investigating two separate anti-Semitic incidents, including one in which the Chabad of Oak Park received a note Feb. 11 with a swastika drawn on it and the words “Hail Hitler.”

The incident occurred a week after three swastikas were discovered spray painted at Dos Vientos Community Park in the Conejo Valley.

VCSD is investigating the Oak Park situation — in which two suspects were captured on surveillance video by the synagogue — as a “hate incident,” according to VCSD Detective Marta Bugarin. She said the suspects, in the event they are identified, would not be arrested, as there was no defacement done to the building, which is a house on a residential block.

“They [the suspects] didn’t deface anything, they didn’t vandalize anything, they taped it on the front door,” Bugarin said. The police report describes the suspects as “dark figures,” she said.

In a phone interview, Chabad of Oak Park Rabbi Yisroel Levine said he received word from two neighboring families — non-Jewish families — who told him they received similar notes on the same night. That, coupled with the fact that there is no outward indication that the Chabad building is a Jewish center, has led him to believe his synagogue was not specifically targeted.

“When I first heard of our temple [being left with the note], I thought we were targeted. Now I’m not so sure,” Levine said.

This occurred as VCSD authorities continue to investigate the incident at Dos Vientos Community Park in which two swastikas were painted on the wooden boards on the perimeter of a baseball field, and another one defacing the concrete next to it.

Residents of the area discovered the graffiti at the park and notified authorities on Feb. 4, according to Steve Gold, a congregant of Congregation Am Hayam in Ventura County. It has since been removed.

“We called it into the police department to have them investigate it, which they did, and it wasn’t registered as a hate crime because it was not addressed to anyone in particular,” Gold told the Journal.

Gold said he was surprised to find the swastikas in his neighborhood in the first place.

“I really think this is just an independent person who probably has anger issues. I don’t feel in my neighborhood polarizations occurring,” he said.

Bugarin said the department has not identified any suspects in connection with the incident and that an investigation is ongoing.

“Right now, we don’t have any suspects,” Bugarin, who works in the VCSD Thousand Oaks division, told the Journal in a phone interview last week.

“It looks like it was a juvenile who may have done this,” VCSD media relations officer Capt. Garo Kuredjian told the Journal of the park incident.

According to Bugarin, VCSD is investigating the swastika painted onto the concrete but not the two that had been painted onto the baseball field’s wooden boards. She speculated this is because the two on the wooden boards had already been painted over by the time police officials arrived on the scene, on Feb. 6.

Cyndi Silverman, regional director of the Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties Anti-Defamation League (ADL), said the three swastikas discovered at the park were only the latest incidents she has seen in the area. She declined to draw a correlation between the uptick and the election of President Donald Trump.

It’s “definitely a concern, seeing an uptick in hate symbols, especially in public parks,” she said.

Bugarin, however, denied there has been an increase in anti-Semitic activity in her area, Thousand Oaks.

It’s “definitely not something we see or hear about very often,” she said.

Ed Jones, a member of the Conejo Recreation and Park District board of directors, wrote on his Facebook page after the swastikas were discovered, “Such a shame that this symbol of hate would appear in one of our parks.”

The Ventura County incidents followed a mid-December instance of an anti-Semitic scrawl discovered in West Los Angeles, near Temple Isaiah. The phrase, “Why is Jackie O being played by an Israeli Jew?” — a reference to Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman’s portrayal of Jackie Kennedy in the recent film, “Jackie” — was discovered at a bus stop on a poster of the film “Assassin’s Creed.” A slashed-through Jewish star appears next to the scrawl.

ADL Pacific Southwest Associate Regional Director Ariella Schusterman said the West L.A. incident was “taken care of pretty quickly.”

Both the Dos Vientos and West L.A. incidents were documented via the neighborhood-centric social network app Nextdoor, which provides a platform for residents to describe positive and negative activity in their respective neighborhoods. In separate interviews, Schusterman and Silverman said they appreciated people using Nextdoor to document instances of hate but also reminded people it is important to inform local law enforcement agencies and report them to the ADL, which compiles a record of reported hate incidents and crimes.

“Obviously we want people to call us when we have anti-Semitic incidents or crimes,” Schusterman said, “or to call the police.”

A children’s playground in Brooklyn Heights, New York was vandalized with a swastika in November 2016. Screenshot from Twitter

Hate crimes against Jews in NY have doubled in ’17, police say


Hate crimes against Jews have more than doubled in New York City since the start of the new year from the same period in 2016, police reported.

The city’s Police Department said 56 hate crimes were reported from Jan. 1 to Feb. 12, with 28 of the incidents targeting Jews, according to Politico. In the same period last year, the total number of hate crimes was 31, with 13 targeting Jews.

In December, the NYPD said it witnessed “a huge spike” in hate crimes following the election of President Donald Trump, with the majority of incidents directed at Jews.

JTA has reported on anti-Semitic incidents following the election, including acts of vandalism featuring swastikas in the New York subway and Donald Trump-related themes left in public areas as well as on the homes of Jewish individuals. Also, three separate strings of bomb threats have targeted Jewish community centers across the country.

On Wednesday, when asked by a reporter about “a sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents across the United States,” Trump responded by boasting about his Electoral College win, pointing to his Jewish daughter’s family and promising that “you’re going to see a lot of love.”

T-shirts with swastikas were sold at USC on Wednesday until the university had the vendor removed. Photos courtesy of Ilana Morgan Spiegel

Vendor found selling swastika t-shirts at USC


T-shirts emblazoned with swastikas that were being sold at USC by a vendor created a stir on campus the morning of Feb. 15 after a student discovered them at a central area of campus, near the Tommy Trojan statue.

A university official said the vendor was asked to leave as a result.

The shirts may have been referring to the historical significance of the symbol before its appropriation by the Nazis. One shirt featured the phrase, “To Hell with Hitler! I’ve been a Good Luck Sign Since the Beginning of Time” and different styles of swastikas appeared above the words “Buddhist,” “Greek,” “Christian” and more. The design featured the phrase, “Friends of the Swastika” as well as an image of a Jewish star with a swastika inside.

According to the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the swastika “was used at least 5,000 years before Adolf Hitler designed the Nazi flag. The word swastika comes from the Sanskrit svastika, which means ‘good fortune’ or ‘well-being.’ … To this day it is a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Odinism.”

That didn’t stop some on campus from expressing their dismay at the symbol’s appearance. Among the first to discover the T-shirts was USC student Ilana Spiegel, who notified campus officials. USC had a contract with the vendor, whose name was not immediately available to the Journal, she said.

Spiegel took to Facebook to express her dismay at the incident.

“I’m shaking as I write this,” she wrote in a post on Facebook around 11:30 a.m., accompanying a photograph of one of the shirts. “I was walking to class this morning and saw this T-shirt for sale at this vendor.”

Chabad of USC Executive Director Rabbi Dov Wagner also denounced the shirts. He said the swastika’s connections to Nazism can’t be ignored and therefore the shirts were inappropriate to to be sold on campus.

swastika-at-usc2

“I think some symbols can’t be reclaimed. If it’s something clearly provocative, and I believe whether that was the intention of the guy — the vendor — or not, the intention of such material is to offend and many students were commenting they were grandchildren of [Holocaust] survivors, etc., and it triggered a deep emotional response to see such material displayed openly on campus,” he said.

A statement from USC Hillel said the shirts “have no place on our campus.”

“These items are anti-Semitic and trivialize the Holocaust, an incredibly dark period in history in which more than six million Jews perished,” the Feb. 15 statement signed by Bailey London, executive director of USC Hillel, says. 

Eddie North-Hager, USC director of media relations, confirmed that the incident occurred: “A vendor was asked to leave because the items he was selling led to the vendor causing a disruption on campus. The merchandise the vendor was selling did not meet community standards, per USC guidelines for vendors who wish to sell goods and services on campus.”

North-Hager said the shirts were in violation of a USC campus policy that says, according to policy.usc.edu, “Approval for on campus sales will only be considered for those vendors whose products or services are not considered obscene as defined by community standards.”

Spiegel, 21, a junior who describes herself as a “mixed-race Jewish women,” characterized the instance as an exception to the rule in terms of what the campus atmosphere at USC is like.

“I feel like USC is supportive of the Jewish community … I’ve never felt unsafe on campus as a Jew before,” she said.

Commuters removing swastikas from a New York City subway on Feb. 4. Photo by Gregory Locke/Facebook

Manhattan commuters clean Nazi graffiti off subway car with hand sanitizer


Commuters on a Manhattan subway train used hand sanitizer to clean away swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti drawn in permanent marker on the train’s maps, advertisements and windows.

The subway riders discovered the graffiti on Saturday night.

“The train was silent as everyone stared at each other, uncomfortable and unsure what to do,” one of the commuters, Gregory Locke, wrote in a post on Facebook. “One guy got up and said, ‘Hand sanitizer gets rid of Sharpie. We need alcohol.’ He found some tissues and got to work.”

Locke’s post continued: “I’ve never seen so many people simultaneously reach into their bags and pockets looking for tissues and Purel. Within about two minutes, all the Nazi symbolism was gone.”

“Nazi symbolism. On a public train. In New York City. In 2017,” he wrote.

At least one of the messages said” “Jews belong in the oven,” according to the New York Daily News.

Locke disputed one of his fellow travelers, who said while they were cleaning: “I guess this is Trump’s America.”

He responded in his post: “No sir, it’s not. Not tonight and not ever. Not as long as stubborn New Yorkers have anything to say about it.”

Anti-Semitic hate crimes rise in Los Angeles


On Jan. 7, 2015, a rabbi found a black swastika painted on the fence of his home. 

Less than a month later, on Feb. 1, a man entered a Fairfax District synagogue and shouted, “I’m going to kill all Jews,” then attempted to use a stun gun on one of the members. 

That July, somebody scrawled “Kill Jewish Boys,” along with a swastika, at the entrance to a Hollywood school.

These were three of the hate crimes highlighted in the 2015 Hate Crime Report, an annual study released Sept. 29 by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations.

Countywide, hate crimes rose 24 percent from 2014 to 2015, from 390 to a reported 483. That’s the highest number since 2011 and the first increase in seven years, according to the report.



Shimon Peres and President Barack Obama meeting in Washington, D.C., on June 25, 2014. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The number of hate crimes motivated by religion rose 38 percent to 99, with the majority, 71 percent, targeted at Jews. Anti-Semitic crimes increased 27 percent, from 55 to 70.

Of the religiously motivated hate crimes, 31 percent were violent. Sixty-nine percent took place in the city of Los Angeles, home to most of the county’s Jews.

The year before, 2014, the county reported a 31 percent increase in anti-Semitic crimes, despite an overall dip in the number of hate crimes.

“It is disturbing to see this two-year trend of increased anti-Jewish hate crimes, both in L.A. County and in the state of California,” Amanda Susskind, director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for the Pacific Southwest region, said in a statement.

The ADL statement made note of a 2015 report from the California Department of Justice showing a 21 percent increase in what it called “anti-Jewish bias events” that year.

The majority of the hate crimes in the county report, though, targeted African-Americans, despite their making up only 8.3 percent of L.A. County residents.

“This is troubling news that confirms the need to protect our residents of this county who deserve to live free of prejudice, discrimination, harassment and violence,” L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis said in a statement.

Reward offered in search for U.C. Davis swastika vandals


The Anti-Defamation League has offered a $2,500 reward for assistance in catching whoever spray-painted swastikas at a Jewish fraternity house at the University of California, Davis.

The reward, which was announced by Davis police on Tuesday and reported by the Sacramento Bee, is for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who painted the two swastikas between 2 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

The swastikas appeared at the off-campus house of Alpha Epsilon Pi two days after the U.C. Davis student senate passed a divestment resolution targeting Israel.

In response to the vandalism, Andrew Borans, the national executive of AEPi, announced in a statement that “Alpha Epsilon Pi International has dispatched staff and security experts to Davis to assure that our brothers are safe in their university and safe when expressing their Judaism and support for Israel.”

In addition, an online petition demanding “immediate condemnation of this hateful act from all UC Davis administrative officials as well as from every single ASUCD elected representative” had garnered 16,037 signatures by Wednesday.

U.C. Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi issued a statement condemning the vandalism attack on Saturday, the same day that the swastikas were found.

Sears removes swastika ring for sale on website


The retailing giant Sears removed a swastika ring offered for sale on its website.

The item was listed under the “men’s punk rock style” jewelry collection.

“This gothic jewelry item in particular features a Swastika ring that’s made of .925 Thai silver,” the item description read. “Not for Neo Nazi or any Nazi implication. These jewelry items are going to make you look beautiful at your next dinner date.”

After consumers called attention to the item, a Sears representative responded via Twitter: “This item is a 3rd party Sears Marketplace product that does not abide with our guidelines and is being removed.”

The item also was for sale on Amazon.com, though it is listed currently as unavailable.

The Jewish parenting website Kveller posted an image of the Sears page with the swastika ring before it was taken down.

 

East Carolina U. students accused of spray-painting swastika


Two East Carolina University students were arrested for allegedly spray-painting a swastika on the door of a Jewish student’s apartment.

The swastika was discovered Wednesday by the Jewish woman in a private complex, The Landing, which caters to college students on several campuses in the Greenville, N.C., area.

The accused – Timothy Gill Jr., 21, and Brandon Friedhoff, 20 – are acquaintances of the woman, according to WNCN, a North Carolina television station.

They are facing charges of ethnic intimidation, injury to real property and first-degree trespass, WNCN reported. If found guilty, the men also could be banned from the apartment complex and expelled from the university.

“It needs to be known that our community will not stand for any type of discrimination and harassment,” Greenville Police Chief Hassan Aden said.

Car vandalized with swastika at murdered rabbi’s Fla. memorial


A mourner attending a memorial service in North Miami Beach, Fla., for murdered rabbi Joseph Raksin had his car defaced with anti-Semitic symbols.

A swastika and Iron Cross were etched Sunday on a BMW owned by the mourner, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported. The Miami-Dade Police Department is investigating the vandalism.

The service at the Bais Menachem Chabad synagogue was held a day after Raksin was shot and killed while was on his way to Sabbath morning services there. Raksin, 60, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was in south Florida visiting his daughter and her family.

On Tuesday, hundreds gathered in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn for the funeral procession for Raksin, a father of six who was a leader in the Orthodox community. His hearse passed Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters there.

At a news conference on the same day, Police Chief Alfredo Ramirez said his department is “utilizing all its resources to apprehend the perpetrators” in the shooting, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Police said they were looking for two men who walked away after shooting Raksin. One who was wearing a yellow shirt; the other had on an orange shirt.

Maj. Hector Llevat of the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Homicide Bureau said the investigation is in its preliminary stages and the motive is unknown.

“Right now there are no indications it’s a hate crime or related to a hate crime,” Llevat said. “However, we’re not closing that door and we’re not ruling anything out.”

Members of Raksin’s family have said they believe the murder was a hate crime.

Miami’s Jewish community is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Raksin’s assailants, according to the Miami Herald.

A nearby synagogue, Torah V’Emunah, was the target of vandalism on July 28, with swastikas and the word “Hamas” spray-painted on the front pillars.

 

 

Spate of anti-Jewish, anti-Israel graffiti blankets Rome


Italian police are investigating a widespread spate of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel graffiti in Rome that local media speculate could be the joint work of left-wing and right-wing extremists.

Dozens of swastikas, slogans and posters were found spray-painted or plastered on walls and shop windows Monday in various parts of the city — as many as 70 or more in all.

They included slogans such as “Dirty Jews,” “Jews your end is near,” “Out with Zionists” and “Israel executioner.”

Some posters bore a swastika and the phrase “Anne Frank storyteller.” Other posters, apparently put up by a neo-fascist group, showed a Celtic cross and a Palestinian throwing a rock at an Israeli tank.

Jewish leaders, and local and state officials, strongly condemned the vandalism.

Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino called the affair shameful and “an insult to all Romans.” He expressed solidarity with the Jewish community, saying “Rome wants and must be the capital of dialogue and peace, and not the terrain of barbarism.” Interior Minister Angelino Alfano promised “maximum” efforts by law enforcement to identify the culprits and curb further outbreaks.

Reclaiming the swastika


A swastika banner will fly over New York City and appear in other major cities around the world this Saturday.

No, the Nazis aren’t invading. This Saturday marks the fourth annual World Swastika Rehabilitation Day, organized by the International Raelian Movement. Founded in 1974, the movement claims more than 70,000 members in 104 countries who believe, according to the group’s website, that “thousands of years ago, scientists from another planet came to Earth and created all forms of life, including human beings, whom they created in their own image.”

The name of that alien race, by the way? Elohim.

The swastika features prominently in Raelian imagery, particularly in the religion’s symbol – a swastika interlocking with a Star of David. The swastika stands for infinity in time, while the two triangles making up the star represent infinity in space.

One of the movement’s goals is to reclaim the swastika, which was primarily a symbol of peace and good luck in many Eastern religions prior to the rise of the Nazi party, according to the ProSwastika Alliance. Swastika Reclamation Day events will be held Saturday in New York, Los Angeles, Switzerland, France and Australia. Because of Shabbat, the Raelians will mark the day in Tel Aviv today.

“We want to fully rehabilitate this symbol that’s so dear to billions of people,” said Thomas Kaenzig, Raelian guide and president of the ProSwastika Alliance in a statement. “It’s been used for thousands of years as a symbol of wellbeing and good luck, so when Westerners interpret it as meaning something ugly just because the Nazis used it, our society denies millions of people the right to live their religion freely.”

The character Alan Harper on the CBS show “Two and a Half Men,” after having a Hitler mustache drawn on his face once, commented that it was actually a good look, but “one guy had to ruin it for everyone.” Clearly, Kaenzig and company refuse to accept that.

Anti-Semitic message painted on Boston-area church


A suburban Boston church was vandalized with an anti-Semitic message while police were hunting for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The Victory Assembly of God church in Sharon, Mass., was vandalized on the night of April 19, as police pursued Tsarnaev, 19, and the city and area towns were locked down.

Windows were broken in the church and the symbols $= (Star of David) = (swastika) were sprayed on the church's wall. Billboards for an upcoming Jerusalem Day celebration at the church also were destroyed.

The church's Rev. Joe Green told local media he believes the anti-Semitic vandalism was the result of the planned Jerusalem Day celebration.

“It’s really disappointing and sad that communities of faith are now the target of people who want to perpetrate messages of hate,” Robert Trestan, New England regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, told the Boston Globe.

Man arrested in connection with Wilshire Boulevard Temple bomb threats


The man arrested in connection with fake bomb threats made against a Los Angeles synagogue was also charged with vandalizing it earlier this month.

Several bomb threats against the Wilshire Boulevard Temple were called in to the Los Angeles Police Department Tuesday morning. One call said that there was a bomb planted in a car at an intersection near the synagogue.

Police investigated the threats and blew up a suspicious package left in a car adjacent to the synagogue, but the package was found not to contain explosives.

Wan Ryung Song, also known as Patrick Song, 46, was arrested later on Tuesday. Song is a naturalized U.S. citizen from South Korea.

[RELATED: Wilshire Boulevard Temple target of bomb threats]

Song was charged with four counts of making a bomb threat, one count of vandalism at a house of worship and one count of a hate crime, according to the LA Times. His arrest was based largely on video footage from the synagogue's surveillance cameras. He reportedly made all the bomb threat calls to police from the same pay phone located near the synagogue.

The synagogue, known as the oldest in Los Angeles, was vandalized on Dec. 6 with a swastika and anti-Semitic graffiti.

Southern California temple is vandalized


A temple in an upscale neighborhood of Long Beach, Calif., was vandalized.

Two-foot tall swastikas and the words “Nazi” were painted in red spray-paint on the front of the Temple Israel building on Monday night. Temple Israel is the oldest Reform synagogue between Los Angeles and San Diego, the Long Beach Post reported.

Long Beach Police Department spokeswoman Nancy Pratt told the newspaper that the incident was being investigated as a hate crime.

The temple had recently completed a yearlong $4.6 million renovation, according to the newspaper.

Indian authorities remove ‘Hitler’ cloithing store sign


Municipal authorities in the Indian state of Gujarat removed the sign for a men's clothing store named Hitler.

The sign — on which the letter “i” was dotted with a swastika — was removed Tuesday after hundreds of complaints from both within and outside of the Jewish community.

“The store owners had voluntarily agreed to remove the controversial billboard. But when they failed to do so, we removed it,” Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation Commissioner Guruprasad Mohapatra told the Press Trust of India.

“It is a sensitive issue. We had received hundreds of e-mails demanding removal of the board,” he said.

The shop owners had no prior notice that the sign was to be dismantled, according to reports. They reportedly filed a complaint with police over the action.

Shop owner Rajesh Shah told The Indian Express in September that he and his business partner Manish Chandani decided to change the name because they were “getting political pressure” to do so. They later backtracked, saying they would only remove the sign if the Jewish community gave them enough money to erect a new sign and advertise the name change.

The store in the city of Ahmedabad, which opened in August, is named for one of the proprietor's grandfathers, whose nickname was Hitler. He reportedly was called Hitler “because of his strict nature,” according to The Times of India.

Shah said he did not know about Hitler's history, except that he was a strict man, until he started researching it on the Internet, though Jewish community members said they believe the owners are not as ignorant of the history of Hitler as they say.

Northridge mother pleads guilty in syrup swastika vandalism


A Northridge mother pleaded no contest Wednesday to a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor for helping her teenage daughter and two friends deface homes with maple syrup swastikas, human feces and toilet paper, according to the L.A. city attorney’s office.

Catharine Whelpley was ordered to complete 80 hours of community service at Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles’ SOVA program and attend one year of parenting classes.

If Whelpley completes both within one year, her case will be reduced to an infraction.

“It is important that persons responsible for such conduct, including parents, have taken responsibility for their improper actions,” City Attorney Carmen Trutanich said. “Hopefully, these enforcement actions will deter others from engaging in such bad conduct.”

Whelpley had faced multiple criminal counts, including three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, two counts of vandalism, two counts of trespassing and two counts of tampering with a vehicle.

The charges stem from an April 3 incident in which Whelpley drove her 14-year-old daughter and her daughter’s two friends – ages 14 and 13 – to two homes in the San Fernando Valley that were defaced, prosecutors said.

At the first home, the residence of a former middle school friend, the teens allegedly defaced the property with toilet paper and maple syrup and smeared feces on the homeowner’s vehicle.

Whelpley then drove the juveniles to a store to purchase additional toilet paper before arriving at the second home, according to the city attorney’s office. Whelpley’s daughter allegedly wrote the word “Jew” and drew three swastikas on the front walkway of the home, which belongs to the son of a Holocaust survivor.

During today’s proceedings, the homeowner was allowed to read a statement that delved into his family’s experience with the Holocaust, Deputy City Attorney Ayelet Feiman said.

“I do believe it opened the defendant’s eyes to what her daughter actually did to his family,” she said.

Whelpley has attended a Museum of Tolerance program with her teenage daughter and wrote a letter of apology to the victims. In addition to the parenting classes and volunteering for SOVA, Whelpley has been ordered to pay a $200 fine and approximately $600 in additional penalties.

The three teenage girls did not face criminal charges because their actions did not cause permanent damage to the properties. However, the teens faced disciplinary action at their school for the defacing, which they admitted to doing, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Swastika banners startle New Yorkers, others in area


A swastika on the banner of an airplane startled beach-goers in New York and surrounding states.

The banner included the word swastika and a swastika intertwined with a Star of David, the symbol of the Raelian movement. On Saturday it flew over New York, Long Island and New Jersey, while another flew over Los Angeles, according to reports.

The banners marked the third annual Swastika Rehabilitation Day sponsored by the Raelian movement, which was founded in 1974, and says that it has more than 70,000 members in 104 countries. Followers believe, according to the group’s website, that “thousands of years ago, scientists from another planet came to Earth and created all forms of life, including human beings, whom they created in their own image.”

Police and Jewish organizations received complaints about the swastika banners.

“The swastika is one of the best traces left by those who created us, and the attempt to bury it as a symbol of violence and hatred only gives credit to the horrible Nazi ideology,” Thomas Kaenzig, coordinator of World Swastika Rehabilitation Day, had said in a statement prior to the event. “Demystifying the original meaning of this beautiful symbol is the only solution.”

The Raelians also invited Buddhists, Hindus and a number of spiritual groups who use the swastika as their spiritual symbol to show support for the day. Prior to the rise of the Nazi party in the 1930s, the swastika was primarily considered a symbol of peace and good luck in many Eastern religions.

Northridge mother charged in syrup swastika vandalism


A Northridge woman has been charged with multiple criminal counts for helping her teenage daughter and two friends deface homes with maple syrup swastikas, human feces and toilet paper. Catharine Whelpley, 43, was charged on June 11 with three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, two counts of vandalism, two counts of trespassing and two counts of tampering with a vehicle.

Whelpley is accused of driving her 14-year-old daughter and her daughter’s two friends — 14 and 13 — to two homes in the San Fernando Valley. The girls have admitted to the April 3 defacing, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

At the first home, the residence of a former friend from their middle school, the teens defaced the property with toilet paper and maple syrup and smeared feces on the homeowner’s vehicle, according to statement from the office of L.A. City Attorney Carmen A. Trutanich. According to the statement, Whelpley allegedly drove the girls to a store to purchase additional toilet paper between the two incidents. 

At the second home, which belongs to the son of a Holocaust survivor, the teens admitted to using maple syrup to draw three swastikas and to writing the word “Jew” on the front walkway.

The three girls will not face criminal charges because their actions did not cause permanent damage to the properties. However, the teens faced disciplinary action at their school.

If convicted on all charges, Whelpley could face up to seven years in county jail or a $13,500 fine, according to prosecutor Ayelet Feiman, who added that it is unlikely she will receive the maximum sentence.

Whelpley’s arraignment is scheduled for June 28.

Madonna under fire as Israel concert draws heavy media flak [VIDEO]


France’s far-right National Front is considering a lawsuit against Madonna over a video she used during her concert in Israel on Thursday night. The clip showed party leader Marine Le Pen with a swastika on her forehead.

While she performed the song “Nobody Knows Me” in Ramat Gan Stadium, Madonna showed a video in which her face was collaged with a number of well-known personalities. The face of Marine Le Pen appeared for a few seconds with a swastika affixed to her forehead before dissolving into a composite character resembling Adolf Hitler.

The concert, which opened Madonna’s 65-city MDNA world tour, received mixed reviews from the international press, which provided extensive coverage – around 80 foreign journalists were here for the performance.

Read more at Haaretz.com.

Skip to 1:32 in the footage below to see Marine Le Pen in Madonna’s show:

‘Fly-in’ activists draw swastika in holding cell


Two activists who arrived in Israel as part of the pro-Palestinian “fly-in” protest drew a large swastika on the wall of their holding cell.

The activists, who were deported Monday, were from France and Spain.

The swastika was drawn two days before the country marks Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day.

A picture of the swastika will be distributed to the foreign media by Israel’s Foreign Ministry, the Immigration Authority told Ynet.

Israel detained 79 activists at Ben Gurion Airport and prevented them from entering the country. Twenty-one of the activists have been returned to their point of origin. More than 50 French activists have refused to be returned home. Deportation measures are in effect to forcibly remove them from the country.

Girls admit to syrup swastikas, mother investigated


Three teenaged girls admitted to defacing a Northridge home with swastikas this week, but will not face criminal charges, according to investigators with the LAPD’s Devonshire Division. However, the mother of one girl could face a criminal charge for driving the girls to the scene.

“That is the direction of the investigation now, to find out whether or not the mother’s actions are criminal in nature,” LAPD Capt. Kris Pitcher said.

On Tuesday morning, April 3, a Northridge Jewish family awoke to find three swastikas and the word “Jew” written in maple syrup on their front walkway. The homeowner, who spoke with The Journal on condition of anonymity, said maple syrup also covered his front door as well as two cars parked in front of the home. Feces were also found near the home’s front door and toilet paper was strewn in the property’s trees.

A second nearby property was also defaced with toilet paper.

Police confirmed the three teenaged girls were responsible, but they could not be charged with a crime because the syrup, feces and toilet paper had caused no permanent damage.

“It was a very unfortunate incident, but it did not amount to a criminal act,” Devonshire Division’s Lt. Silva Atwater said.

Without a criminal charge, police also could not charge the girls with a hate crime.

“Hate crimes enhance the penalty for an already existing crime when it can be shown,” said Amanda Susskind, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.

The girls’ actions will instead be recorded as a “hate incident.”

“It goes down in the stats and everything else, however … there is no prosecution,” Pitcher said.

The three teenage girls obliged a police request to appear at the Northridge station on April 4. They admitted to defacing the homes, and they left the station later that afternoon, Atwater said.

An LAPD press release issued after the interviews describes the defacement as “an ill-advised prank.”

Whether the mother knew what the girls’ plan was is still being investigated, Pitcher said.

The homeowner, who had initially reported that his home was in Chatsworth, said the three girls were former friends of his teenage daughter and that they attend the same school.

“What it comes down to, these are three stupid kids doing a stupid act,” he said.

Northridge home defaced with swastikas


[UPDATE Apr. 10: Girls admit to syrup swastikas, mother could face charge]

[UPDATE Apr. 5: Girls admit to syrup swastikas, mother investigated]

The Los Angeles Police Department’s Devonshire Division is investigating the Tuesday morning vandalism of a Northridge home as a hate crime.

Three swastikas and the word “Jew” were written in maple syrup on the home’s front walkway. Feces were also found near the home’s front door and toilet paper was strewn in the property’s trees, according to the homeowner.

LAPD Sgt. Humberto Najera said the victim’s residence was hit with what appeared to be a prank, but police are investigating the incident as a hate crime and as an act of vandalism because the graffiti was anti-Semitic.

“We don’t treat these things lightly,” Najera said.

The incident took place sometime between midnight and 6:30 a.m. on April 3, according to the homeowner, who works out of a home office with a window that overlooks the front yard. He first noticed the toilet paper in a tree.

“I went outside to make sure there wasn’t additional damage, and when I opened up the door there was feces on the doorstep, maple syrup all over my door and on the doorstep and walking up to the door, two swastikas and the word ‘Jew’ and a third swastika,” said the homeowner, who spoke with The Journal on condition of anonymity.

The homeowner, the son of a Holocaust survivor, posted an image of the vandalism on Facebook. The photo has since gone viral.

The homeowner, a father, believes the incident could be related to three teenaged girls – former friends of his daughter.

He said that another house in the neighborhood, about three-quarters of a mile away, was vandalized with toilet paper around the same time. He added that his daughter is a friend of the daughter of the other victimized family.

The victims have not yet contacted the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

“We’re always concerned when we see swastikas,” said ADL Senior Associate Director Alison Mayersohn, who planned to follow up with police officials Wednesday morning.

The homeowner described his neighborhood as ordinarily “very quiet,” and said he could not recall other incidents of anti-Semitism taking place in the area. He was, however, jolted by this incident.

“It’s 2012 and we’re still dealing with people hating Jews because we’re Jews,” he said.

Swastikas marked on three Sherman Oaks homes


At 11: 30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14, Jennifer Niman pulled out of her driveway on Leghorn Avenue in Sherman Oaks. Talking on her cell phone, the longtime San Fernando Valley resident was heading to her job as a real estate agent at Prudential California Realty.

“Excuse me, excuse me,” Niman’s next-door neighbor, an Israeli, called out, running up to Niman, saying she’d just found a swastika drawn on the fencepost adjacent to her gate. Niman got out of the car, went to check her own home and discovered a swastika had been drawn onto her own mailbox, as well. About four houses down the street, another house also had been vandalized, a swastika painted onto the column of a light fixture in front of the house.

The residents of all three homes are Jewish – Niman’s family is Orthodox, and the neighborhood is heavily Jewish. “There are 12 Orthodox Jewish families on the block,” Niman said. “Why pick these three?”

Niman said she has other neighbors who are Orthodox whose homes weren’t vandalized. “My neighbor to the north is an Orthodox Jew, my neighbor across the street is an Orthodox Jew…you have to ask yourself, why these three houses?”

Niman said her grandparents died during the Holocaust, and she fears she was targeted because she’s Jewish, although Los Angeles Police Department-Van Nuys and Anti-Defamation League representatives could not confirm that Niman and the others were specifically targeted because of their religion. Niman said the swastikas were drawn only on “things that were easy and smooth,” including “stucco surfaces” on her and the other vandalized homes, which are easier to deface than what she described as the “rough brickwork or flagstone” of neighbors’ homes.

In addition, long lines were drawn on three cars in the neighborhood, one of which belongs to an elderly woman who is not Jewish, and the others to a neighbor two-doors-down from Niman who is Jewish and a third person whom Niman couldn’t identify.

Niman’s mailbox, her Israeli neighbor’s fencepost and the exterior column at the home of the Orthodox family down the street from Niman– along with the vandalized cars – all were marked in the same green marker, or crayon – police have not yet determined the material used. Niman said her neighbors whose homes were vandalized have been too distraught to speak to the media and that she and her neighbor down the street have not wiped off the swastikas on their properties yet, while her Israeli neighbor has.

A Sherman Oaks resident’s fencepost was defaced with a swastika on Wed., March 14. Photo by Jennifer Niman

“I haven’t had time; I have things to do,” Niman said. “This took up to three to four hours of the middle of my workday yesterday that I have allotted to this.”

Detective Richard Yep of the Los Angeles Police Department-Van Nuys said Thursday morning that police had no leads yet as to who was responsible for this latest incident. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime, Yep said. “The people are Jewish, and there’s swastikas, we need to label it as a hate crime,” he said. The LAPD also does not know how many people are responsible.

Niman believes the acts were committed sometime overnight or early in the morning on Wednesday. A nearby home had outdoor security cameras running at the time of the incident. The cameras were positioned in a way that might have captured one of the cars being vandalized, however, the Niman said footage was “too dark or grainy to get any clues.” Yep said the LAPD is still reviewing all evidence in the case. Yep added that the swastikas varied in size, “from six inches to 12 inches.”

On Wednesday night, a relative of one of the victims notified the ADL through the organization’s website.  “We feel for the people,” Alison Mayersohn ADL senior associate director Alison Mayersohn said. “How would that feel for any of us to have a swastika put on our homes, whether [you’re] Jewish or not?”

Niman and her husband, a general contractor, have lived on Leghorn Avenue for 20 years. She said that in the summer of 2001 the inside of her home was targeted with anti-Semitic and anti-Israel markings after she rented the house to a film crew. Based on the markings, the perpetrator, who was never identified, was reacting to pieces of Israeli art in the home.

The markings read, “‘this house is cursed by blood of Palestinians,’” Niman said. “That is kind of emblazoned on my memory, and it was under a towel in my children’s bathroom, so when you pulled the towel off the towel bar you saw the statements in big capital letters.”

 

Opinion: Artists’ ignorant use of the swastika


I have a pretty open sense of humor, except when it comes to artists utilizing the imagery used to kill more than 6 million of of my Jewish ancestors. Especially since I’ve volunteered with and met many Holocaust survivors who still have numbers tattooed on their arms, from when they were branded like dogs in concentration camps. So, the following article means more to me then you will ever know. And I think maybe only fellow Jews will understand the pain of it, yet I can’t help but try to express it to others.

Yes, the swastika was originally a symbol of peace, but the Nazis tainted it, and there is no way for anyone to bring it back. It’s like taking the knife that Charles Manson’s followers used to decimate Sharon Tate’s body and then cutting your birthday cake with it. Sure, it’s just a utensil, but no matter how well you clean it, it’s still the knife that ripped an unborn baby from its mother’s stomach.

And it’s not necessarily that artists are intentionally seeking to be anti-Semitic by putting swastikas in their paintings and sculptures. They just might not really know what the symbol means or are at least are ignorant to how it makes an entire nation feel. I mean, multiple branches literally stop on my family tree because a soldier laden in swastikas killed them off. And he didn’t just shoot them or give them the decency of a proper burial. He stripped them nude and shaved their heads and gassed them and burned their babies in front of their mothers and threw their bodies into unmarked pits and then urinated on their corpses. It’s hard to even think about it without breaking down into tears. And other Jews, like me, no matter how assimilated they’ve become, can’t help but subconsciously feel those things when they view the image of a swastika — whether it be from ancient China or, more recently, on the walls of a gallery­­­­ in Los Feliz.

We were innocent, we were poor, and we were just an easy target for an evil man with a mustache and failed art career to take power. And because of that,. we were hunted down in the street, forced to wear yellow patches that identified us as Jews, and then shipped off to concentration camps. So, artists may like the way the symbol aesthetically looks, but unfortunately it’s not the same kind of symbol as a stop sign or traffic cone. It’s dark, evil, and was used by a nation of people during World War II who asked helpless mothers to point at which of her two sons she would rather have shot or skinned alive.

So, the next time an artist wants to use a swastika in their work, I beg that he or she take a step back to think about all the children who starved to death. Think about the near genocide of an entire population. And think about all of the artists we would’ve never experienced — like Mark Rothko, Shel Silverstein, Sol LeWitt, Roy Lichtenstein, Judy Chicago, George Segal, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Steven Spielberg, Saul Bellow, Gary Baseman, and Mel Brooks. And at the very least,  either talk to a Holocaust survivor or visit Anne Frank’s house, where she lived in the walls silently with her family, hiding from the Nazis. Where she kept a journal of her memories written in the dark. Where the Gestapo ripped her life apart. And where a little girl who had done nothing wrong was hunted out like wild game and forced to live in fear. Go there and take it all in. Go there and attempt to feel what she felt before you just casually slap a swastika on a canvas.


Afterword:  Sometimes I wish we weren’t so afraid to make our stands as Jewish people in the art world, especially since there are so few of us. And every now and again, I also wish we were militant and unafraid to rip pieces featuring swastikas off the walls, tear them apart and light them on fire. But that isn’t our way, and we’re not going to ever stoop to such a bottom-feeding level as to kill a man for his images. Yet, we also don’t have to stand by the works and just let ourselves accept that they’re only art. We can ex-communicate galleries that actively choose to showcase anti-Semitic pieces. We can have a voice on forums and art Web sites. And we can make sure this ignorant use of such hateful imagery does not continue.

Please, if you see a piece of anti-Semitic art, whether it be on the street or in a gallery, send me an e-mail and I will do my best to make sure the right people are notified.


Daniel Rolnik is a Los Angeles-based arts writer. He can be contacted at danielrolnik@gmail.com.

Anti-Semitic flags found near Milken campus


A Milken Community High School official reported the discovery of anti-Semitic renderings of the Israel flag in front of and near its middle school campus on March 1.

The two small flags featured a painted swastika in place of the Star of David. One flag was found in front of David and Hillevi Saperstein Middle School of Milken Community High School, while the other was discovered 1 mile west of the campus, at the intersection of Calneva Drive and Mulholland Boulevard.

Milken Head of School Jason Ablin said that a Milken parent found one of the flags – approximately four inches by six inches in size – stapled onto an L.A. Department of Water and Power sign next to the middle school’s exit gate early Thursday morning.

The LAPD and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) were notified about the incident.

Milken’s security service reported that the alleged perpetrator drove a “dark-gray SUV” and is a “young-looking male, light-skinned, dark hair, about 5-feet and 4-inches,” Ablin said.

ADL Associate Director Matt Friedman, who saw photographs of the flags, said they looked like “stickers or a notecard.”
 

Friedman noted the connection between the signs and this week’s Israeli Apartheid Week, a series of events in cities and college campuses across the United States that portray Israel as unjust occupiers of the Palestinian people.

“I don’t know if there’s any linkage there, but I was thinking that,” Friedman said.

Ablin assured parents that Milken considers students’ well being to be of utmost importance. “The first thing I did was inform the parents. I sent an announcement to parents this morning because obviously the first thing on everyone’s mind is safety and I wanted to make everyone aware of what happened, so rumors weren’t spreading around and so parents knew we were taking security very seriously,” Ablin said.

Calif. Messianic pastor’s home vandalized with swastika


The home of a Messianic pastor in California was vandalized with a swastika.

A swastika and the word “Jew” were painted on the Hemet, Calif., home that Pastor Michael Rose shares with his wife and children, The Press-Enterprise newspaper reported.

Police are investigating the vandalism as a hate crime. Rose, pastor at the Light of Love Chapel, discovered the vandalism on Thursday morning.

Self-identified Messianic Jews embrace Christian theology and adopt some Jewish practices. Some are of Jewish ancestry, though many are not. Jewish groups have objected to the movement’s use of terms such as “Messianic Judaism” as misleading.

Joseph’s Tomb vandalized with swastikas


Joseph’s Tomb was vandalized with swastikas and other graffiti.

Israeli soldiers discovered the damage early Thursday morning, shortly before more than 1,000 Jewish worshipers came to pray at the tomb located near Nablus in the West Bank. The pilgrimage ahead of Yom Kippur was coordinated in advance with the Israeli army.

The soldiers covered the graffiti with white paint before the arrival of the worshipers, Haaretz reported.

Joseph’s Tomb is a site considered holy to Jews. The biblical patriarch Joseph, as well as his sons Ephraim and Menashe, is believed to be buried there.

The army has coordinated monthly early-morning visits to the tomb for Jewish worshipers since 2009. It has been vandalized several times in the past decade.

The vandalism comes days after a mosque in northern Israel was destroyed in an arson attack, allegedly by extremist Jews.

California leads nation in anti-Semitic incidents


For the second year running, California led the nation in anti-Semitic incidents reported in the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) 2010 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents. Reports of anti-Jewish vandalism, harassment and physical assaults rose 8 percent in California between 2009 and 2010, from 275 to 297 reports, reflecting a national trend of a slight increase in incidents.

Using data gathered from local law enforcement and direct reports to its 30 regional offices, the ADL documented 1,239 incidents across the country in 2010, compared to 1,211 incidents in 2009.

This was the first national increase reported since the numbers hit a record high in 2004, when the United States experienced 1,821 incidents of anti-Semitism. Since 2004, the numbers have declined incrementally each year.

Amanda Susskind, ADL’s Pacific Southwest regional director, said she doesn’t dwell too much on the numbers, but the report points to a troubling trend.

“I think we are not watching closely enough at the lowest level where this is happening, so it’s starting to bubble up in other areas,” Susskind said. “It feels to me that there is a lot of stuff going on in schools, where Jewish students and teachers are being assaulted or vandalized or harassed. I think we are seeing a higher threshold of tolerance for disrespecting the Jewish people … and it’s infiltrating the mainstream sensitivity.”

Hateful words left unchecked can create an atmosphere conducive to anti-Jewish crimes, she warned. While hate crimes are down across the state, she said, hate crimes against Jews are up. In Los Angeles County in 2009, anti-Jewish hate crimes accounted for one out of five of total hate crimes and 88 percent of hate crimes targeting religious groups, according to the most recently available Hate Crime Report of the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations.

An incident in the ADL Pacific Southwest Region that received international attention was the “Beat the Jew” game played by a group of students at La Quinta High School in May 2010.  The game, which was promoted through a Facebook page, involved students called “Nazis” in a car chasing a student running on foot called the “Jew.” 

Susskind said the list of incidents in California included a prevalence of name-calling — “dirty Jew,” “kike” and “f-ing Jew” — sometimes accompanied by physical threats or actual assaults. While the list included a handful of references to Israel, most of the incidents are what Susskind calls “traditional anti-Semitism.”

The report does not document anti-Semitism online, but Susskind said she sees a “correlation of acceptability” in online remarks against Jews and what happens in the real world.

In addition to calling out these incidents to raise awareness, ADL runs anti-bias programs at schools and in the workplace.

“And we’re hoping that parents will talk to their kids about these things. It is important for parents to discuss hatred and bigotry with kids, just like they discuss sex and drugs — they’re facts of life and we need to impart a strong sense of values to children,” Susskind said.

Nationally, the report included 22 physical assaults (down from 29 in 2009); 900 cases of anti-Semitic harassment, threats and events (up from 760 in 2009); and 317 cases of anti-Semitic vandalism (down from 422 in 2009).

“While we have come a long way in society as Jews have been accepted into the mainstream, America is still not immune to anti-Semitism and bigotry,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director. “The good news is that we have continued to enjoy a period of relative calm, where the overall numbers are mostly unchanged and the incidents isolated. But the bad news is that, for all our efforts to educate, to raise awareness and to legislate, anti-Jewish incidents remain a disturbing part of the American Jewish experience.”

Examples of incidents reported to the ADL Pacific Southwest Region in 2010 include:

ASSAULTS
• High-school student in Valley assaulted and called a name by another student. (March)
• In Santa Clarita, woman denigrated for being Jewish. When husband intervened, he was assaulted. (May)
• Man physically assaulted in Santa Monica while attacker yelled, “You dirty Jew” and “I hate all Jews.” (July)

VANDALISM
• “Kill all Jews” graffiti at West Los Angeles bus stop. (January)
• Swastikas and SS lightning bolts in pedestrian tunnel near Valley synagogue. (January)
• “The Jew lives here” written in chalk on sidewalk in front of Sherman Oaks home. (March)
• Jewish teacher at middle school in Valley reported swastikas in her classroom and anti-Semitic threats. (April)
• Numerous 5-foot-tall swastikas painted on alley walls near rabbi’s residence in Mid-City. (June)
• “Jews” spray-painted in alley of home of Jewish resident of Beverly Hills. (June)
• Apartment resident in Riverside found small Nazi flag hanging from his mezuzah, along with “Heil Hitler” written on the wall next to the mezuzah. (October)

Source: Anti-Defamation League 2010 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents

Vandal gets probation for spray-painting swastikas


A man who spray-painted anti-Semitic slogans on three Jewish sites in Calgary was sentenced to 18 months probation.

Anti-Jewish graffiti and swastikas were painted on a Holocaust memorial and synagogues in the largest city in the Canadian province of Alberta in November 2009.

The man, who cannot be named under Canadian law because he was a teenager at the time of the offenses, was caught in Winnipeg in March 2010 and returned to Calgary. He was charged with inciting public hatred as well as with mischief to a place of religious worship motivated by hate—the first time that charge had been laid in Calgary.

He pleaded guilty to the charges and admitted he had been a member of a white supremacist group. During sentencing, he met with two Holocaust survivors who explained the impact of his crimes on them. His lawyer said the young man no longer belongs to any neo-Nazi groups.

In addition to probation, the man was ordered to complete 150 hours of community service.