(June 15, 2021 / JNS) Despite previous statements to the contrary, a hookah lounge in New Jersey has removed a banner outside its store that read “Stop the New Nazis” and depicted former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as Hitler.
One of two anti-Israel banners—the other said “Free Palestine”—was hung outside the Clifton Hookah Lounge in Paterson, N.J., home to one of this country’s largest Arab populations.
According to Stop Antisemitism, the Nazi imagery and language is a “vile comparison is deemed anti-Semitic by #IHRA and once again shows us the importance of having such a definition.”
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism, which has been passed by numerous cities and countries in recent months, is believed to be the most comprehensive definition of what constitutes modern anti-Semitism.
A local online news site, Daily Voice, quoted Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh as saying it is “both shocking and saddening to witness such ignorance in a city that celebrates diversity as its greatest strength and attribute.”
The removal of the sign is an about-face for the store, whose employees had previously taken to social media to defend the sign.
“Sorry, not sorry, our signs are not coming down,” said an employee with the social-media account “Livelovelizbeth” in an online post within the week. “We all truly stand on freeing Palestine, free Palestine until its free completely, and are also against you know the Israeli occupation, Israeli terrorism and all that.”
Scott Richman, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League NY/NJ, told JNS that he hopes people take away an important lesson from this incident.
“No matter what your views on Israel, using Nazi imagery to describe it is not only inaccurate and offensive, but deeply anti-Semitic,” he said. “Rather than promote peace, it simply fans the flames. This poster has now been taken down, and we hope that all understand that this image is outside of the bounds of acceptable discourse.”
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