Anti-Semitic signs spur reaction by Federation, ADL

Anti-Semitic signs spur reaction by Federation, ADL

By Joel Magalnick, Editor, The Jewish Sound

One compared Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Adolf Hitler. Another showed what looked like a Jewish person eating a baby. These signs and others being carried at weekly rallies in Seattle’s Westlake Center protesting the now-ended war in Gaza spurred the local chapter of the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle to release a joint statement decrying the imagery.

“We are deeply troubled by the need to put out a second statement denouncing anti-Semitism here in Washington State. Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all bias-motivated speech have no place in our political discourse,” said Keith Dvorchik, president and CEO of the Federation.

The first statement, a week earlier, referred to comments by National Rifle Association spokesman Brian Judy at a pro-gun rally in July.

The two agencies sought to draw a line between protests of Israel’s government and policies and “imagery and language comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and drawing on thousands of years of hate — including references to blood libel, an inflammatory, centuries-old lie that Jewish people kidnap, murder and use the blood of children in religious rituals,” according to the statement.

Such language and imagery “has no place in our public debate,” they added.

Hilary Bernstein, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in the Pacific Northwest, said that while “ADL believes strongly in the importance of free speech, even speech that is deeply offensive, we also believe that the best antidote to bad speech is good speech, and we call upon our local elected, religious and civil rights leaders to use their voices to condemn this type of hateful and anti-Semitic rhetoric.”