Anti-Semitism on rise in New Zealand, Jewish leader says

A white rose lies on one of the 2,711 stellae at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, Germany.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

A white rose lies on one of the 2,711 stellae at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, Germany.

Anti-Semitism is increasing in New Zealand and those responsible need to better understand the implications of their actions, a Jewish leader says.

New Zealand Jewish Council president Stephen Goodman said hate speech towards Jews was particularly prevalent on social media.

"A lot of anti-Semitism comes out of ignorance and thinking this is a fashionable thing to do," Goodman said. 

"I don't think that legislating really works. The real issue is education.

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"It's really understanding that we're all people and we all have a right to be in New Zealand."

Goodman's comments come following a police investigation into posters featuring Nazi signs and Jewish slurs plastered around Queenstown Resort College last week. 

A security camera image posted on a police Facebook page shows two men – one in dark glasses, camo pants and wearing a "Trump" t-shirt – entering the tertiary institute. The photo has since been removed.

"I'm not sure what would have caused this," Goodman said. "There are no Jewish students at the college.

"This sort of thing is not acceptable in New Zealand."

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Sometimes people did things like this without realising what impact it might have, Goodman said.

In the past the New Zealand Jewish Council had arranged education for people including a trip to the Holocaust Centre in Wellington, he said.

"Our general feeling is by giving people the facts, they will stop."

On Tuesday, a spokesman for an "alt-right" Facebook page, Adam Holland, said it was "absolutely ridiculous" police were looking into the matter.

"This looks like freedom of speech not hate speech."

Senior Sergeant Paula Enoka said the two men pictured had contacted police and would be spoken to.

There were no further updates on Wednesday.

The incident comes after an open letter signed by 27 prominent New Zealander's warned freedom of speech was under threat in the country's universities.

 - Stuff

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