Alaska museums condemn antisemitic vandalism in Anchorage

A man and a woman stand in front of a glass door.
Museum Director Rabbi Joseph Greenberg and Curator Leslie Fried stand in front of the Alaska Jewish Museum in Anchorage in May 2021. They found stickers showing a swastika on the windows of the museum this summer. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

Officials at museums across Alaska have condemned repeated acts of antisemitic vandalism this year targeting the Alaska Jewish Museum in Anchorage.

During instances in May and September, someone has placed swastika stickers on the building or carved the symbol associated with the Nazis into the museum door, the Juneau Empire reported.

“Alaskan museums are appalled by the attacks, and they are eager to show support for the Alaska Jewish Museum and the Alaska Jewish Campus as they seek to address these crimes and ensure the safety of their facilities and community,” Dixie Clough, director of Museums Alaska, a statewide museum association, said in a statement.

The September acts of vandalism came as the Anchorage Assembly held public hearings about instituting a mask mandate for 60 days amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Many opponents of the mandate packed the assembly chamber to protest, including some wearing yellow Star of David stickers, similar to the patches Holocaust victims wore, to compare the mandate to what Jews faced under the Nazi regime in Germany.

RELATED: Scholars say Holocaust symbol has no place in Anchorage mask debate

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson, who opposes all COVID-19 mandates, initially defended the use of the stars. At the time he said: “There was a formal message that came out within Jewish culture about that and the message was, ‘never again.’ That’s an ethos. And that’s what that star really means is, ‘We will not forget, this will never happen again.’ And I think us borrowing that from them is actually a credit to them.”

The next day, he apologized. “I understand that we should not trivialize or compare what happened during the Holocaust to a mask mandate, and I want to apologize for any perception that my statements support or compare what happened to the Jewish people in Nazi Germany,” Bronson said in a statement.

“History reveals that malicious acts increase during uncertain times, and they flourish when encouraged or ignored by people in leadership positions,” Clough said her statement. “We will not ignore this spiteful act and we will work with the Alaska Jewish Museum to combat bigotry and prejudice in all its forms.”

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