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Jewish Cemetery Defaced in Holland

Twenty-five tombstones at an old Sephardic cemetery in the southwest Dutch province of Zeeland were defaced with swastikas and Nazi slogans last week.

A group calling itself the Nazi Front Zeeland took responsibility for the vandalism, which police announced only after the damage had been cleaned up.

No perpetrators have yet been found.

Three times last week, the Nazi Front Zeeland telephoned threats to bomb a center for asylum-seekers in Middelburg. In all cases the threats proved false.

The Sephardic cemetery in Middelburg, the provincial capital of Zeeland, was in use only between 1656 and 1721, when the last Sephardim left Middelburg and the Jewish community there became only Ashkenazic.

Sephardim had come to Middelburg from neighboring Antwerp, Belgium, and from Brazil. Many Sephardic Jews, who originally came from Portugal, fled Brazil when the Netherlands gave up that country to Portugal in 1654 and some of those went to Holland.

Among those buried at the Middelburg Sephardic cemetery is Samuel, the young son of Marrano scholar Manasseh ben Israel, who died in Middelburg when returning with his father from a mission to England.

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