JERUSALEM – Vandals spray-painted anti-Zionist graffiti at Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, its chairman said Monday, suggesting radical ultra-Orthodox Jews were to blame.
The anti-Zionist graffiti was painted at 12 spots across the memorial compound, including slogans that read, "Hitler, thank you for the Holocaust," ''Jews, wake up, the evil Zionist regime doesn't protect us, it jeopardizes us," and, "If Hitler hadn't existed, the Zionists would have invented him."
"We are shocked and dazed by this callous expression of burning hatred against the Zionists and Zionism," said Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev. "This unprecedented act crosses a red line."
He suggested that ultra-Orthodox radicals were responsible, noting the slogans were written in excellent Hebrew handwriting and one was signed "world ultra-Orthodox Jewry."
It's unclear how the culprits broke into the memorial, which is guarded 24 hours a day.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the case was under investigation but no suspects had been identified. He said one of the main angles of the investigation focused on ultra-Orthodox extremists.
Many ultra-Orthodox Jews are non-Zionist because they think a Jewish state should not be established before the coming of the Messiah. A small number of extremists subscribe to the conspiracy theory that Israel's founders colluded with Hitler to achieve their goal of establishing a state for Jews.
Part of the graffiti was scrawled across the walls of the Warsaw Ghetto Square monument in the main square of the memorial complex.
Education Minister Gideon Saar condemned the acts, saying that "whoever desecrated Yad Vashem with these awful messages did it to offend the public's feelings."
Holocaust survivors groups expressed outrage over the graffiti.
Uri Regev, a liberal rabbi who heads the religious equality group Hiddush, called on leading ultra-Orthodox rabbis to condemn the act in the strongest terms. "Their silence will be viewed as accepting the acts of extremists in the ultra-Orthodox sector."