Antisemitic incidents in New Zealand have risen sharply since the Hamas October 7 attack on Israel, with attacks on schoolchildren, an arson attack on a former Jewish youth centre and synagogues subjected to vandalism and bomb threats.
Half of the respondents to a survey conducted by the Holocaust Education Centre reported that children have experienced antisemitism at school since October 7. Children have been locked in a cupboard, assaulted with a broomstick and had the Star of David scrawled on their school shirt. Because of bad experiences with previous complaints, only 40 per cent of parents had reported incidents.
“When I complained about my daughter being targeted for her Jewish faith, the school told me that she should simply walk away,” explained one parent. “Now my son is experiencing antisemitism due to the war, I can’t see the point of raising it again.”
New Zealand’s Jewish community is estimated by the country’s Jewish Council at around 10,000 people, out of a total population of five million.
A former Habonim Dror youth centre next to an Auckland synagogue was hit by an arson attack in November, and synagogues across New Zealand have been repeatedly targeted with vandalism and bomb threats.
The problem is compounded by New Zealand’s tradition of minimising reporantisemitism, creating an erroneous perception that the country is a safe haven.The government-funded informational Te Ara website states, “New Zealand has seen few examples of prejudice directed at Jews,” despite post-October 7 reports of boycotts and bomb threats to Jewish businesses and organisations, and a Jewish Council survey in 2021 in which 60 per cent of Kiwi respondents agreed with antisemitic statements.
Juliet Moses, of the Jewish Council, said: “Police are providing presence alongside the Community Security Group (CSG) and professional security at some Jewish sites.”
Joint Deputy Prime Minister David Seymour said: “It is distressing to see a rise in antisemitic behaviour and my thoughts go out to those in the Jewish community who are living in fear at the moment.”