Paris Holocaust memorial vandalized with blood-red handprints on anniversary of Nazi roundup

The Wall of the Righteous contains the names of more than 3,900 people recognized for risking their lives to help save Jews in France.

By The Algemeiner

A Holocaust memorial in Paris was defaced on Tuesday with painted blood-red hands in what French authorities and Jewish leaders described as a “hateful rallying cry against Jews.”

“The Wall of the Righteous at the Shoah [Holocaust] Memorial was vandalized overnight,” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said in a statement, calling it an “unspeakable act.”

Located in central Paris, the wall honors people who helped to rescue Jews in France during the country’s Nazi occupation in World War II. May 14, the day of the latest vandalism, marks the anniversary of the first major round-up of French Jews under the Nazis in 1941.

The defacement came amid a record surge in antisemitic incidents in France since the Hamas terror group’s pogrom in Israel on Oct. 7 and the ensuing war in Gaza.

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“No cause can justify such degradations that dirty the memory of the victims of the Shoah and of the Righteous who saved Jews at risk to their lives,” Hidalgo said, adding that she filed a complaint with the Paris prosecutor.

Yonathan Arfi, president of the French Jewish representative body Crif, called the vandalism “despicable” and a clear act of antisemitism.

“No matter who the perpetrators are, this degradation of the Shoah Memorial, the symbol of the bloody hands of the terrorists who lynched two Israeli soldiers in October 2000, resonates like a hateful rallying cry against Jews,” he wrote on X/Twitter.

Arfi was referring to the notorious lynching of two Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reservists, Vadim Nurzhitz and Yosef Avrahami, in the West Bank city of Ramallah in October 2000. Nurzhitz and Avrahami were brutally murdered and their bodies mutilated by a Palestinian mob while both were in the custody of Palestinian Authority (PA) police officers.

One of their assailants, Aziz Salha, appeared at the window of the police station following the murder of the two Israelis, delightedly displaying his blood-stained palms to the appreciative crowd gathered outside. A photograph of Salha’s gesture quickly went viral and has remained an enduring image captured during the conflict between Israel and Palestinian terrorist organizations, including Hamas.

The Wall of the Righteous contains the names of more than 3,900 people recognized for risking their lives to help save Jews in France.

“No excuse or justification possible,” the Union of Jewish Students of France tweeted in response to the vandalism. “These red hands on the walls of the memorial provoke unease among Jews, rekindle a deadly controversy, and above all advocate massacres of Jews.”

Other French and Jewish leaders condemned the defacement of the memorial.

“We are saddened and disgusted by the antisemitic vandalism that defaced the Shoah memorial in Paris with blood-red hands on the Wall of the Righteous,” the European Jewish Congress said in a statement. “This is an outrageous disrespect to the memory of Holocaust victims and to the individuals who risked their lives to save Jews.”

Dani Dayan — chairman of Yad Vashem, Israel’s national memorial to the Holocaust — “strongly condemned” the incident.

“We call on the French authorities to find the perpetrators of this heinous act and bring them to justice,” he wrote on X/Twitter.

Tuesday’s vandalism came amid an explosion of antisemitism in France in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel. Antisemitic outrages rose by over 1,000 percent in the final three months of 2023 compared with the previous year, with over 1,200 incidents reported — greater than the total number of incidents in France for the previous three years combined.

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