For what has been described as 'the first time in living memory,' a Jewish house of worship in Switzerland has been set afire. Less than a kilometer away, a Jewish-owned shop was also set alight.
Both attacks, which local police said were connected, occurred last night in the southern Swiss city of Lugano. Elio Bollag, the president of Lugano's Jewish community, described the incidents as 'anti-Semitic.' No one was hurt in either attack, but the synagogue's library was almost totally destroyed in the firebombing.
It was reported in the name of Jewish leaders in Switzerland that this was the first time in living memory that a Swiss synagogue has been attacked in this manner.
Previous anti-Semitic vandalism has included only graffiti daubed on walls.
Lugano apparently has a strong Arab population. The Neue Zurcher Zeitung reported just yesterday that tourism officials in the city have published a brochure in Arabic omitting references to aspects of European life that could offend Muslims. A comparison of the Italian, French or German versions of the Lugano tourist board's brochure with the Arabic-language text reveals that in the latter, pictures of churches are missing. In addition, references to the local variety of pork-based salami have been replaced with cheeses from the Italian-speaking region.
In June 2001, Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum, 71, of Bnei Brak was murdered in Zurich. The murderer, who rendered 11 children orphans, was never caught.
Switzerland's Jewish population has remained steady at approximately 20,000 for several decades.
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