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 “Jihadi atrocities are accompanied by a 'cultural cleansing’ of non-Islamic holy sites. Cemetery desecrators are similarly associates to terror.”

Paris, 29 August 2016

In a letter to the recently appointed UK Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire MP, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, argued that “Belfast – a city that has witnessed so much violence between Protestants and Catholics – is now the scene of a vicious antisemitic assault, not on live Jews but, reportedly, by a mob in a paroxysm of hate targeting their deceased families. Jewish history has learned that the intent that begins with a cemetery desecration can lead on to an eventual pogrom.”

The letter noted that “apparently the attack was premeditated, as eight youths came armed with hammers and blocks, accompanied by a crowd of racist supporters.”

The Centre acknowledged that, “the Secretary’s own experience in law enforcement and counter-terrorism, made him well aware that Jihadi atrocities are now accompanied by, what UNESCO has denoted as, 'cultural cleansing’ of non-Islamic holy sites. Thus, cemetery desecrators are likewise associates to terror, whether neo-Nazi, extreme left or Islamist.”

Samuels explained that “twenty-five years ago, I was driving through Streatham in South London and stopped at the Jewish cemetery, where 23 members of my family are buried. About one-third of the gravestones were destroyed, including that of my grandparents. My work-desk is strewn daily with the detritus of antisemitism, but this time it was personal. I rebuilt my grandparents’ tombstone, but the pain remains as an alert to impending danger.”

The letter suggested that “this Belfast antisemitic outburst is a test case for Ulster in the aftermath of ‘the Troubles.’ The desecration must be widely discussed in classrooms and the media in the context of Holocaust education. The perpetrators’ punishment must result in an understanding of the gravity of their act.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre offered the Ulster administration “its documentaries and experience in extirpating the root causes of hate.”