An ad by a Holocaust denial group currently appearing in two S.F. BART stations (left) and anti-Semitic flyers left at five East Bay synagogues shortly before Rosh Hashanah (right)
An ad by a Holocaust denial group currently appearing in two S.F. BART stations (left) and anti-Semitic flyers left at five East Bay synagogues shortly before Rosh Hashanah (right)

As the anti-Semitic BART ad says: Yes, ‘history matters’

Over the past two weeks our community has woken up to a pair of ugly flare-ups of anti-Semitism.

In the first incident, posters depicting caricatures of hook-nosed Jews (an image right out of Hitler’s Der Stürmer) went up near five East Bay synagogues just before Rosh Hashanah. The perpetrators, the Stormer Book Club, openly admit to Nazi sympathies.

The other outrage is currently up in two downtown San Francisco BART stations: an electronic ad taken out by the Holocaust-denying Institute for Historical Review. The ad features two words — “History Matters” — along with the name of the organization.

The sham IHR is nothing more than a cuckoo’s nest of far-right extremists, all of whom have a soft spot for the Third Reich. Yet the First Amendment grants them free speech, and so BART officials say they felt compelled to accept the ad, as spokeswoman Alicia Trost told the Guardian: “If you deny the ad, you can be taken to court, and you’ll lose, and that’s obviously costly.”

Though we live in a famously tolerant part of the country, we are as likely to experience outbreaks of hatred as anywhere else. After all, two openly anti-Semitic, Holocaust-denying candidates for federal office — defeated Senate candidate Patrick Little and current GOP House candidate John Fitzgerald — hail from the East Bay.

And so, our Jewish community must confront this wave of anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry sweeping the world, and once again shore up our notion of a just society.

That is why we are encouraged that the House of Representatives last week passed the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act of 2018. Should this bill become law, it would pressure the Trump administration to fill the post, which has been vacant since January 2017. The envoy is officially tasked with spearheading the country’s diplomatic efforts in the fight against anti-Semitism around the world.

The bill would also elevate the envoy to the ambassadorial level, reporting directly to the secretary of state. Jewish organizations, including the ADL and the American Jewish Committee, have called for a new envoy. We, too, call on the administration to fill the post right away.

Look around: neo-Nazi marchers in Charlottesville last year, worrisome pro-Hamas rhetoric from U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, ceaseless anti-Jewish assaults on the streets of European cities. These are scary times for Jews and other minorities.

At the dawn of the Jewish New Year, we are grateful for what we have and will stay vigilant, because we know what’s at stake.

J. Editorial Board

The J. Editorial Board pens weekly editorials as the voice of J.