'Jews Are Guilty': Antisemitic Message Spray-Painted Outside Holocaust Museum

The south side of the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, was found graffitied in black spray paint with a swastika and a message that read "Jews are guilty."

Officers spotted the graffiti while on patrol around 4 a.m. on Thursday. According to the St. Petersburg Police Department, city sanitation officials have already painted over the message.

#stpetepd investigating hate graffiti left overnight on the Holocaust Museum downtown. If you have info please call #stpetepd 727-883-7780 pic.twitter.com/jCNEOcRWLb

— St. Pete Police (@StPetePD) May 27, 2021

Newsweek was provided a statement from Elizabeth Gelman, the executive director of the Florida Holocaust Museum. She said the incident proved to her that the work of the museum is "more important than ever."

"We remain committed to our vital mission to prevent future genocides and educate people about the dangers of antisemitism and other forms of racism and hatred. Clearly, our society still has a long way to go," she said.

Michael Igel is chairman of the board for the museum and the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, and the museum becoming a target for hate in his hometown was particularly upsetting to him.

"As the grandson of Holocaust survivors, this attack on the museum is not just repugnant. It is personal. The lessons of the Holocaust have not yet been learned, but the Museum and the broader community who supports our vital work will never be intimidated by cowardly vandals, nor will we be deterred from our mission," he said.

Rally In Support Of Israel Held In
Pro-Palestinian protesters burn the Israeli flag as they face off with a group of Israel supporters and police in a clash in Times Square on May 20, in New York. A swastika and a message that read "Jews are guilty"were found spray-painted on the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

With the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas, the United States has seen an increase in other vandalism or attacks with antisemitic intent. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported that in the two weeks of conflict between Israel and Hamas, antisemitic incidents reported in the U.S. increased by 75 percent.

A statement from the CEO of ADL, Jonathan Greenblatt, discussed the uptick in attacks. "It's happening around the world—from London to Los Angeles, from France to Florida, in big cities like NYC and in small towns, and across every social media platform," he said.

The ADL reported that there were nearly 17,000 tweets between May 7 and May 14 that used a variation of the phrase, "Hitler was right."

Last week, a synagogue three hours from St. Petersburg was a man dumped human feces and shouted antisemitic language to the people outside the building.

"This is antisemitism, plain and simple," said Greenblatt. "And it's indisputably inexcusable in any context."

Detectives are currently investigating the graffiti in St. Petersburg as a hate crime and used social media to urge anyone with information or tips to contact them immediately.

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"The Museum deeply appreciates the responsiveness and professionalism of the St. Petersburg Police Department and its dedicated officers," Gelman said.

Thursday's incident took place on the National Day of Action Against Antisemitism, where a virtual rally at 4 p.m. ET will take place, put on by the ADL, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Federations of North America, and other national organizations.

Many prominent government officials, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy are scheduled to speak.

Newsweek reached out to St. Petersburg Police Department for comment.

Update: This story was updated to include the Jewish Federations of North America, to the list of organizers of National Day of Action Against Antisemitism.