Shorts: World

New Zealand Jews honor dead

wellington (jta) | Three hundred members of Wellington’s Jewish community paid homage to those buried in the city’s Makara Cemetery.

The Sunday, Aug. 15, ceremony came a week after 113 headstones were pushed over and the prayer hall destroyed by fire in a nighttime attack on the cemetery.

Meanwhile, participants in an anti-racism meeting on Saturday, Aug. 14, faced extremist demonstrators handing out anti-Israel placards outside the hall where they gathered.

The extremist demonstrators are members of the National Front, whose Oct. 23 rally is being countered by the anti-racist activists.

Inside the meeting, some of the activists spoke out against the participation of New Zealand Jewish leader David Zwartz, saying Israel is a racist state.

Berlin Jewish memorial defaced

berlin (jta) | A Jewish memorial in Berlin was defaced. A swastika was painted on the memorial at the city’s Tiergarten Park on Sunday, Aug. 15, shortly before a visit to the site by German Jews who had emigrated, the German state news agency reported.

Tomb desecrator in custody

paris (jta) | A man admitted to desecrating some 60 Jewish tombstones in the French city of Lyon.

The man, a French national, is being held by police after giving himself up voluntarily the night of Saturday, Aug. 14.

Police believe he could have carried out the attacks as part of an initiation rite linked to a U.S.-based far-right group that requires members to commit a “Phineas act,” usually of a violently racist or anti-Semitic nature.

Indeed, the man claimed to be the mysterious figure who had daubed the name Phineas on three of the damaged tombs and who had earlier attacked a Muslim in a Lyon suburb.

Around 60 Jewish tombs and a World War II war memorial were defaced with swastikas and Nazi insignia at a Jewish cemetery in Lyon last week

In the Torah, Phineas, or Pinchas, thrusts a spear through an Israelite prince and his Midianite lover to end a plague that had hit the Israelite camp as divine punishment for immorality.