Two men have been arrested after plastering swastika stickers on the exterior of the Beth Weizmann Community Centre in Melbourne while Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon was inside.
Maimon was in the building to meet with leaders from several Jewish organisations. One of the men made a lewd gesture with his finger the building’s CCTV cameras, while swastika stickers were also found on telegraph poles and tram shelters along Hawthorn Road.
The Beth Weizmann building is owned by Zionism Victoria (ZV).
ZV president Yossi Goldfarb said, “I think it just underscores the importance of the announcements made by the Premier yesterday in terms of banning the swastika, but also the adoption of IHRA.
“Clearly the Premier understands there is a growth in antisemitism and it is a concern for the community.”
Jewish Community Council of Victoria president Daniel Aghion, who was inside hosting the meeting, said, “Thanks to the strong security measures in place and the quick response of security teams, our work was able to continue uninterrupted.
“This incident underscores the importance of remaining vigilant against those who seek to spread hatred,” he said.
“It emphasises the importance of yesterday’s announcement by Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes that the Government will legislate to ban the public display of the Nazi swastika. While this law is not yet in force, once it is, these perpetrators could face a year in prison for similar actions. This send a clear message to neo-Nazis that they are not welcome in our community.”
The AJN understands the men were arrested at Caulfield Park.
Community Security Group (Victoria) CEO Justin Kagan said, “Because this incident was reported to CSG while it was live, we were able to take action immediately and contact police, who responded to the scene and arrested the perpetrators.
“Once again, this serves as a vital reminder to the community to report any acts of antisemitism to CSG.
“Incidents that are live must be immediately reported to the police on 000 and then to CSG so that swift action can be taken.”
Victoria Police said in a statement, “Police have charged two men after they allegedly applied swastika stickers on a number of buildings in the Caulfield area on 12 May.
“It is alleged the stickers were placed on property on Balaclava Road, Hawthorn Road and other fences, light poles and bus stops about 10.30am.
“A 29-year-old Elwood man and a 21-year-old Doreen man have been charged with offensive behaviour and bill posting.”
Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich said, “We hope that Victoria police deals with the perpetrators to the full extent of the law.”
The men will appear at Moorabbin Magistrates’ Court on August 1.