The Mayor of a Massachusetts town has led local and state-level condemnation of antisemitism describing it as “vile,” “hateful” and “unwelcome.”
The comments from Northampton Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra follow a Board of Health meeting in late December when several participants made anti-Jewish remarks or displayed swastikas on Zoom screens. The Mayor also pointed to flyers seen in the city that had antisemitic messages.
The “actions are vile, hateful, and are unwelcome in the city of Northampton” and were “profoundly hurtful to our Jewish neighbours,” declared Mayor Sciarra.
At the meeting to discuss a vaccine mandate for Northampton, a man on Zoom, claiming to be called David Rosenberg, described board members as “unelected, rich Jewish doctors.” The same man said: “We are tired of you attacking our way of life and attacking our children.” He added: “We will resist.”
Another man, who claimed to be called “Justin Goldberg” asked on Zoom if the Board were “willing to put people in camps,” stating “frankly, I think that is where this is heading.”
A third person used the screen name “Jews will not replace us” and displayed three swastikas as their Zoom photo.
In her statement, Mayor Sciarra said that while the city officials “acknowledge constitutionally protected free speech” at public meetings “that does not mean that we do not denounce hateful and derogatory comments or images.”
She added: “We must speak up against the words and actions of those who sow hatred…They are a threat to the safety and peace of our community.”
At a City Council meeting following the incident, one Northampton councillor said: “The antisemitism that was expressed was unconscionable and shocking.” Councillor Stanley Moulton said that while he was “an ardent supporter” of free speech, “hate speech cannot be tolerated.”
Senator Jo Comerford, who represents Northampton, said legitimate criticism of official measures had “crossed a bright line” and had been “marred” by “violent rhetoric and antisemitic slurs,” adding: “We must join together to reject such dangerous bigotry.”