A Holocaust-era Yellow Star was posted by a resident in Rye Facebook group on Monday.
In recent months, some anti-vaccine activists around the country have appropriated the yellow Star of David badge, which the Nazis forced European Jews to wear during the Holocaust, to symbolize their “persecution” at the hands of government vaccine rules.
The intentional misuse of this symbol appeared in a local Rye Facebook group with 1,500 members. When contacted, the Facebook group’s administrator “took it down right away” according to Danielle Tagger-Epstein, chair of the Rye City Commission on Human Rights (Rye HRC).
The yellow star is a well-known symbol which Jews in Nazi-Germany were required to wear visibly on the outside of their clothing to be identifiable as Jews in the aftermath of the Pogrom Night on November 9, 1938. Jews who refused to comply were subject to being shot on the spot.
The racist act has been reported to the Anti-Defamation League, but according to the Rye HRC does not constitute (the definition of) a hate crime.
In a statement, the Rye HRC said: “The utilization of this type of Holocaust imagery wrongly compares the antisemitic, racist, misogynist, xenophobic and homophobic Nazi-regime and its genocidal acts to current government measures to contain the pandemic. Comparing the two not only causes moral outrage, but also represents an attempt to downplay the enormity of the Holocaust. We uphold the right to free speech and the value of self-expression, just never at the expense of another group, and not when it misappropriates the universal symbol of a group’s massacre and torture.”
The statement was signed by the Rye City Human Rights Commission, Rabbi Daniel Gropper for the Community Synagogue of Rye, the pRYEde Community Group, the Rye Clergy Association, Rye ACT, Rye Youth Council and The Rev. Dr Craig Higgins, Senior Pastor for Trinity Presbyterian Church.
Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said, “It is simply wrong to compare the plight of Jews during the Holocaust to that of anti-vaxxers. Groups advancing a political or social agenda should be able to assert their ideas without trivializing the memory of the six million Jews slaughtered in the Holocaust.”
We are a microcosm of what is going on in the country,” said Tagger-Epstein, the HRC chair. “This is an opportunity for education.”