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Antisemitic Graffiti In Novi Sad

In December 2020, in Novi Sad, a billboard showing an image of the Novi Sad synagogue was vandalised with graffiti “Judenfrei” and a crossed-out Star of David.

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The City authorities reacted swiftly, and the graffiti was painted over the same day. Two months later, in January 2021, just a day before the International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration, the same billboard was targeted again with antisemitic graffiti. This time the offender(s) painted a crossed-out Star of David, the “Celtic Cross,” and the abbreviation “SS” (SS refers to the Nazi military units Schutzstaffel.) The authorities painted over these symbols promptly, too.

The billboard with a picture of the Novi Sad synagogue is part of the promotional campaign “Visit Novi Sad” by the city authorities. The Novi Sad synagogue was selected as one of the City’s main cultural monuments and a symbol of tolerance. It represents the Jewish community as one of the ethnic and religious groups which are a natural and inseparable part of Novi Sad. Also, the picture of the synagogue is a reminder of the enormous losses the Jewish community of Novi Sad suffered during the Holocaust.

The graffiti aims to challenge and diminish all elements mentioned above. “Judenfrei” is a Nazi term designating an area that has been “cleansed” of Jews during the Holocaust. This term is intrinsic to Nazi antisemitism, and the Nazis used it in Germany even before World War II. Painting “Judenfrei” on the billboard represents a direct death-threat to the local Jewish community, while celebrating Nazism, its (antisemitic) ideology, the Holocaust, and the perpetrators and murderers who committed the atrocities. Doing this in connection to commemoration of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day is particularly cruel and aims to disrespect and hurt the victims and their families even more.

The goal is to bully, intimidate, frighten, and worry the Jewish community. At the same time, such actions aim to propagate the extreme far-right and neonazi movements and their ideologies, in particular among younger generations. The consequences are concern, fear, and anxiety among individuals, families, and the entire Jewish community. As a result, many might feel the need to hide their Jewish identity, tradition, or culture in fear of being exposed to violence.

References

https://bit.ly/39kjnOk (An article “New antisemitic graffiti in Novi Sad – “Judenfrei” and crossed out Star of David,” published on December 27, 2020, on the independent news portal 021.rs)

https://bit.ly/39hndHV  (An article “Antisemitic graffiti on a billboard near the Freedom Bridge on the eve of the Holocaust Remembrance Day,” published on January 26, 2021, on the independent news portal 021.rs)

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