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Originally published Monday, September 14, 2009 at 3:16 PM

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Swastika graffiti should not be treated lightly

Maybe it was a group of dumb youngsters, but no matter what, red swastikas painted on two Seattle synagogues are to be condemned and prosecuted with the fullest force. Hatred in any form is not something to be tolerated.

EVEN if it was a bunch of dumb youngsters playing around, red swastikas painted on two South Seattle synagogues must be treated as serious hate crimes and prosecuted with the fullest force.

There is nothing humorous or insignificant about a swastika. The equilateral cross was the official emblem of the Nazi Party. It is recognized in many parts of the world as a symbol of oppression, hatred and the death of millions of Jewish people.

Rabbi Moshe Kletenik of the Bikur Cholim-Machzikay Hadath congregation in the Seward Park neighborhood, one of two synagogues defaced last weekend, is the child of two Holocaust survivors.

Anyone who finds it entertaining to paint swastikas anywhere, let alone on a sacred place of worship, embarrasses our city and wounds people of all faiths.

The other defaced temple was Sephardic Bikur Holim. At least eight swastikas were found in the area. The word "Nazi" was also painted in red at one of the synagogues.

For Jewish people on the wrong end of such nastiness and hatred, there is a delicate balance between trying not to overreact and ensuring such acts are not overlooked or treated lightly.

Seattle Police have no suspects but assigned the case to the bias-crime unit, where it will be treated as a serious crime, a felony.

Friday marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year, a time of reflection and evaluation for Jews around the world. There is no good time to paint a swastika anywhere. But this particular vile conduct occurs at a poignant moment and plants a dagger in the heart of a spiritual community.

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