Trigger Warning for discussion of antisemitism
A few days after the Jewish cemetery in Victoria was vandalized with antisemitic slogans and swastika graffiti, a second instance of antisemitism is now haunting Victoria. Today while reading the student newspaper, I read the story about how a Jewish UVic student’s apartment had a swastika painted on the floor. The incident was so upsetting that the student dropped out of UVic. From the Martlet:
“He left UVic because of that,” says Naama. “He had to stop his studies that he loves and it’s very devastating.”
She says he was doing quite well before he left and it’s disheartening that he had to drop out.
I am going to be honest: I would have done the same as him, and now I don’t feel safe in Victoria. The swastika* is a hateful symbol which is associated with many painful memories for Jewish people. There are seldom few Jews alive today who don’t have a relative or a distant connection who were in some way impacted by the Holocaust and the Nazis, and to deliberately invoke this, whether it was meant as a joke or as a sinister threat, is frightening. It has an impact on people that is unspeakable and inconceivable unless you are part of that history.
When I first read that, I remembered the cemetery, and my first thought was “Will they never be satisfied? Do they want to torment us until we’re broken beyond all repair?” I came home after classes and work, and double-checked tonight to make sure my doors were locked and my windows shut before relaxing. Hatred and hate crimes rob you of inner peace, even if you yourself didn’t wake up to the ugliness of a swastika on your floor.
I love this town, and I intend to complete my undergraduate education here. But until the culprits behind the cemetery defacing and the graffiti in this boy’s house (if they are one in the same that would be an odd relief) are caught and brought to justice, I am not going to sleep very soundly in Victoria. If there’s another case of antisemitic hatred which occurs, I may end up moving, for the sake of my mental health.
* I don’t want anyone coming on this article to chime in about how it was originally a benevolent Indian symbol, it’s very obvious the intent of this wasn’t benevolent or Indian.