Coronavirus: Jewish community slams 'ignorant' anti-vaccination protesters using Nazi, Jewish imagery on Holocaust anniversary

The Jewish community is horrified Kiwis opposed to vaccinations and COVID-19 restrictions are using Holocaust and Nazi imagery in their protests.

Thousands descended on Parliament on Tuesday, brandishing signs comparing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to Hitler, linking the media with the Nazis and calling for a new round of Nuremberg trials (the original resulting in death penalties for many senior Nazi figures).

At least one protester was reportedly wearing a Star of David with the word 'unvaccinated' - comparing themselves to the Jewish under Nazi occupation prior to World War II, who were made to wear badges to "mark them out for segregation and discrimination".

Making things worse, the protest took place 83 years to the day since Kristallnacht - the day the Holocaust began.

"Over 80 years later here in New Zealand we are seeing the Star of David being misused for 'freedom' protests and protestors invoking the Holocaust for their own ends," the Holocaust Centre of NZ said in a statement on Wednesday. 

"If people wish to protest, they should do so without citing the industrialised genocide of 6 million Jews, including 1.5 million Jewish children, as the reason they need to do so."

Deborah Hart, chair of the centre, said it was "grotesque and deeply hurtful".

"If people are so ignorant of the Holocaust and what it actually was, and was not, they could contact the Holocaust Centre to arrange a visit… The Star of David is a beloved emblem of the Jewish people. It is bad enough that it was exploited by the Nazis to single out Jews for persecution, but now in a move of appalling cultural misappropriation, it’s being corrupted by the anti vax movement for its own ends.  

"The protest movement and protesters should leave the Star of David where it belongs, with the Jewish people." 

Like many of the conspiracy theories fuelling the anti-vaccination movement, improper use of the Star of David appears to be imported from the US.  * 

"It's actually just disgusting," Juliet Moses of the Jewish Council told Re:. "They are choosing not to be vaccinated, and they are choosing to put these stars on themselves. 

"And the irony is they are standing at a protest. If we were in a Nazi regime and they were Jews, they would not be able to stand around and protest."

Death from the vaccine are extremely rare. There has been just one causally linked to a dose in New Zealand after 7.1 million doses, compared to 32 deaths from 7922 confirmed cases of COVID-19. This means so far in New Zealand, the vaccine has a mortality rate 2.8 million times lower than the virus itself - not to mention up to a third of COVID cases are left with long-term adverse effects from their illness. 

Medsafe has said the deaths following vaccination that haven't been linked actually happen at a rate lower than expected by chance.