From the AEPJ, the European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage, we express our deep concern over recent acts of vandalism targeting historic Jewish heritage sites. The incidents occurred at locations associated with the European Routes of Jewish Heritage that bear no direct connection to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.
In the first case, the historic synagogue of Etz Hayim, in Izmir, Türkiye, and in the second, the medieval synagogue and Jewish quarter of Besalú, in Spain, became the victims of deliberate acts of vandalism. The perpetrators defaced these invaluable cultural treasures with graffiti that falsely linked them to the conflict between Hamas and Israel, often displaying a disturbingly antisemitic character.
AEPJ condemns these senseless acts of vandalism in the strongest terms. Such actions not only harm the local communities but also inflict severe damage on the national and international historical and artistic heritage. These historic sites serve as a crucial link to Europe’s diverse cultural tapestry, and their preservation is essential for promoting understanding and dialogue.
AEPJ emphasizes the need for intercultural dialogue as a vital tool for coexistence in our increasingly diverse society. This approach reflects the contemporary reality throughout Europe. The AEPJ calls for respect and recognition of the role played by heritage, especially Jewish heritage, in fostering reflection on these critical issues throughout history and today.
AEPJ and its network are committed to bolstering initiatives that raise awareness of heritage and promote dialogue through culture to combat all forms of hate speech. This commitment extends to opposing any discrimination against groups, cultures, identities, or religions. In times like these, when unity is more critical than ever, the AEPJ stands firmly in support of the managers and heritage practitioners of these historic spaces and their dedication to preserving Europe’s rich and diverse Jewish heritage.