A Facebook group set up by a Maltese teenager and featuring numerous Holocaust 'jokes', anti-Semitic comments and photos had over 120 members, nearly all of them Maltese schoolchildren, before it was closed last Tuesday.

The title of the group - 'Throw the Jew Down the Well' - was a reference to a song by Jewish comedian Sacha Baron Cohen in the 2006 comedy film Borat. But the content was far from humorous.

One 'joke' posted on the group's wall said the difference between a pizza and a Jew is that a pizza does not scream in the oven.

Among the photos on the site was one of an angry protester wearing a headband inscribed with the message 'Kill Jews'.

The Sunday Times was alerted to the group by well-known Jewish American actor and voice artist Donald Arthur, who divides his time between Malta and Germany.

He discovered the group after seeing that a 15-year-old Maltese boy - the grandson of some close friends - had joined it.

"The thing that shocked me the most was that most of the members appeared to be schoolchildren. They seem so young, which caused me to suspect that maybe some bigoted nut job has been luring otherwise innocent kids into this," Mr Arthur said.

Closer investigation revealed that this was not the case.

The group's Maltese founder, whose identity cannot be revealed because of his age, called himself the 'Head Slayer' of the group.

His mother contacted The Sunday Times and offered assurances that her son had realised the error of his ways and apologised for offending anyone.

"It started as a joke, but that is no excuse because I am totally against racism," she said.

Many of the members were listed as attending the same private school in Malta.

Mr Arthur accepts that children can easily follow their friends without realising the consequences, but having lost family members in the Holocaust and being aware of the damage the Nazis did to Malta, he wanted something done about the group "before more innocent youngsters got poisoned by it".

The group was closed by its founder when he was alerted to the offence it had caused.

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