“This is not an act of freedom of expression. We are in the realm of an offense, of anti-Semitism, of anti-Zionism, and an attack on a religious community and peaceful people.”
The synagogue of Oporto’s Jewish community was vandalized with graffiti on Wednesday in the wake of war between Israel and Hamas. The words, “Free Palestine,” and “End Israeli apartheid” were spray-painted on the gate and fence in front of the building.
“The largest synagogue in the Iberian Peninsula was vandalized today. Haters of Israel act out their hate against local Jews,” said Gabriel Senderowicz, president of the Oporto Jewish community.
The Jewish community of Lisbon expressed its solidarity with its Oporto brethren and condemned the “cowardly” act. “In Portugal, there is no space or place for intolerance and hatred,” the Lisbon community wrote on its Facebook page.
“This is not an act of freedom of expression. We are in the realm of an offense, of anti-Semitism, of anti-Zionism, and an attack on a religious community and peaceful people,” their statement said.
Lisbon said it had faith in the authorities and that the culprits must be brought “in an exemplary way to justice for hate crimes.”
The Oporto Jewish community, one of the strongest in Europe, recently issued a statement in support of Israel and against the heinous attack carried out by Hamas on Oct. 7, which was both Shabbat and a Jewish holiday.
“When all possible means are used to massacre innocent people, and young people, women, babies and even elderly people in wheelchairs are kidnapped, for the sole reason that they are Israeli Jews, the only possible reaction is the elimination of the hydra, which in fact says it is prepared to attack all over the world,” Senderowicz, Oporto’s president, said on Sunday.
“The happiest day in the Jewish calendar [Simchah Torah] has given way to crying in synagogues, where people ask about the human rights of Jews and don’t want to hear any more empty words,” he added.
Blue and white, the official colors of Israel, were displayed on the wall of Oporto’s municipality building as a show of solidarity on Oct. 8, 2023. Credit: Courtesy.
On May 23, 2021, the Oporto synagogue was vandalized by a left-wing German group that called the community “fascists.”
“We were also attacked in 1974 during the revolution. The communists calling us fascists, and the fascists calling us Communists,” Senderowicz told JNS. He was referring to the Carnation Revolution, a military coup on April 25, 1974, by left-leaning army officers.