Ignorance and symbols of hate


MacKenzie said other shoppers, many of whom were elderly, were visibly intimidated by the display.

The incident can be revealed ahead of a report due to be released on Monday detailing anti-Semitic incidents in Australia over the past 12 months, compiled by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

Jewish groups have warned the use of Nazi symbolism was on the rise, and last year’s report chronicled a substantial increase in anti-Semitic harassment, vandalism and threats by phone, email and posters.

Last month, eight swastikas were painted on the Nylex building in Melbourne’s south-east, alongside other white supremacist graffiti. During the federal election Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s campaign posters were defiled with Nazi symbols.

Jennifer Huppert, president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, said there was a “lack of understanding” about the impact of Nazi memorabilia, costumes and symbols, and a growing “disconnect” with the Holocaust.

The incident at the supermarket in Woodend would have been “very disturbing and distressing” for anyone with a connection to the Holocaust as “it brings back memories, it brings back trauma”, Huppert said.

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