Pro-Trump Sign Planted Outside Jewish Memorial Calls Holocaust “Fake News”
A yard sign displaying two of President Donald Trump’s oft-used phrases, “Fake News,” and “#MAGA” was planted with an arrow pointing to the marquee of the Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio Tuesday and was quickly removed upon discovery.
The sign was discovered on the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Campus of the San Antonio Jewish Community by the campus groundskeepers at about 7 a.m. Tuesday.
Though obscured by the morning’s dense fog, the sign was in view long enough for word to spread, upsetting members of a community already shaken by national anti-Semitic incidents and the October mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that claimed 11 lives.
The San Antonio Police Department said officers were called to the campus at Wurzbach Parkway and Northwest Military Highway at 7:45 a.m. for what was described as “threats,” though no arrests have been made yet.
Shared by my friend Sakib on Facebook.— ab ???? (@alexbirnel) December 18, 2018
“FAKE NEWS MAGA” sign outside San Antonio’s holocaust museum this morning pic.twitter.com/Bp9KixHRjI
“It’s clearly a statement of Holocaust denial,” Ronit Sherwin, CEO of the Jewish Federation of San Antonio, told MySanAntonio. She had no idea who put the sign up but reported the incident to authorities.
Holocaust denial is a form of anti-Semitism, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum explains. Deniers “are generally motivated by hatred of Jews and build on the claim that the Holocaust was invented or exaggerated by Jews as part of a plot to advance Jewish interests.”
“Deniers of the Holocaust, the systematic murder of around 6 million Jews in World War II, either deny that such a genocide took place or minimize its extent,” the Southern Poverty Law Center explains.
According to its website, the museum, which is free to the public, includes exhibits of the Nazi’s rise to power, the horrors of the holocaust, the American response, and personal stories from holocaust survivors who settled in San Antonio.
One of the museum’s board members, Harry Levy, issued a statement this week calling it an act of vandalism against the Jewish community, “doubly harmful in that it laughs at the memory of all the millions of Jews who died in the Holocaust and is harmful to the precious few Holocaust survivors who witnessed the horrors of the Shoah first hand.”
“The ignorance expressed by the perpetrators can only be countered by shining the light of truth upon our shared history,” Levy added.
Besides the Jewish Federation, the campus contains the Jewish Community Center and Jewish Family Services. In a statement Tuesday, the Muslim Children Education and Civic Center condemned the sign’s placement at the Jewish campus “in the strongest terms,” calling it an “insulting, demeaning, and dehumanizing incident.”
Using the slogans to deny that the Holocaust happened should disturb even his most ardent supporters, said Aaron Delwiche, a professor of communication at Trinity University.
“The term ‘fake news’ originally referred to completely fabricated news stories appearing in phony publications that don’t actually exist,” he said. “During the past two years, President Trump has used this phrase as a name-calling device designed to discredit news coverage that he considers to be unfairly critical of his administration.”
“This anti-Semitic incident is a reminder that this sort of rhetoric has consequences,” Delwiche added. “The Holocaust was not fake news. It is time for all of us, on all sides of the political spectrum, to insist on facts, evidence, and logic when talking about politics.”
Several incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti–-including spray-painted swastikas and racial slurs that vandalized homes, cars and other items in a Jewish neighborhood–-already targeted the Jewish community in San Antonio in 2015.
Anti-Semitic incidents have been on the rise in the United States, according to a report from the Anti-Defamation League, surging 60% from 2016 to 2017. In October of 2018, a gunman opened fire in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, killing 11 in what is now the deadliest attack on Jews in the United States.