(November 1, 2022)—The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust issued the following statement today in response to recent incidents in which public figures either expressed support for antisemitic material or made antisemitic comments. The statement comes from Bruce Ratner, Chairman of the Board, and Jack Kliger, CEO and President, at the Museum in Battery Park City.
“We are extremely angered by recent incidents in which public figures have supported or promoted antisemitic views and tropes. History has shown us that silence allows antisemitism to foment, beginning with words and ultimately leading to violence and genocide.
Public figures must recognize that their words – whether spoken or shared on social media – carry significant influence and can lead to severe harm. They can influence a legion of fans and supporters to embrace similar tropes. And we are already seeing that in projections on a building in Florida and the audacity of someone walking into a SOHO bar dressed as a Nazi this past weekend.
We all hold the responsibility to ensure that what we share and say publicly must be built on facts, not fear or lies or distortions. The media platforms on which these lies and conspiracy theories are distributed also must be held responsible; they are not just agnostic platforms, as we saw last week by the increase of hate speech on Twitter.
Unfortunately, antisemitism is still very much a part of our world and will not disappear anytime soon. Recognizing that, all of us have an obligation to stand up and speak out against all forms of hate, including antisemitic words and actions, but also all forms of racism, including anti-Asian discrimination.
The Museum of Jewish Heritage is an institution founded 25 years ago on the premise of educating the public so that we never forget the atrocities of the Holocaust, how unchecked intolerance can fester and lead to unspeakable horrors. Words carry weight; they matter, because when not contested, they can lead to hateful actions. Our new exhibition, The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do, explores just that – how seeds of hate, of antisemitism, can lead to violence and genocide.
No form of hate should go unchecked; when we stand up for one people, we stand up for all people, and their rights to live freely in a society that accepts and celebrates our differences, that unites instead of divides.
We need hope at this moment in our history. We must hope for a better world, a better society. But that will not be achieved unless we all do our part. All of us, and particularly those who are in the public eye, bear a responsibility to address prejudice and extremism. We cannot, and should not, remain silent.”