Opinions

Alaska’s museums stand in solidarity against antisemitism

Antisemitism is sweeping our nation again. According to the Anti-Defamation League, antisemitic attacks are approaching a historic high. Not since 1979 have there been this many attacks against people of the Jewish faith in the United States. Sadly, Anchorage is part of this trend.

Twice this year, the Alaska Jewish Museum has been attacked by a vandal with swastika stickers. In the second attack, the vandal carved the hateful symbol into one of the museum doors. A museum should be a safe space where everyone is invited to learn about the history of our communities. Unfortunately, the vandalism of the Alaska Jewish Museum is an attack on all of our museums and our efforts to share the diverse cultures that continue to shape Alaska.

Is Anchorage a safe place for Jewish people today? In addition to the attacks on the Alaska Jewish Museum, residents have used the yellow Star of David for political theater and informed the Jewish community that they should feel honored by the act. Honored that a deeply personal symbol for the Jewish community — one that was used to segregate and mark Jewish people for transportation to concentration camps — was taken and used by people who have no history of violent persecution on the scale of the Holocaust.

All of these events — the casual use of such an emotionally fraught symbol, the callous dismissal of Jewish trauma and experience, and the hate attacks on the museum — are all elements of antisemitism. When any one of these events is ignored and normalized, it paves the way for an escalation in the frequency and violence of antisemitic attacks across the city and state.

Alaskans say that they look out for each other and come to the aid of fellow Alaskans. Right now, the Alaska Jewish community needs our help. It’s up to all of us to prevent antisemitic attacks from continuing. At minimum, we should not use or condone the use of Holocaust symbols in any way. And we should make sure the recent antisemitic attacks on the Alaska Jewish Museum are fully investigated. If you know anything about the vandalism at the Alaska Jewish Museum, please help catch the perpetrator by calling in tips to 3-1-1.

Alaskan museums stand in solidarity with the Alaska Jewish Museum and Alaska’s Jewish community as a whole. Will you stand with us?

Dixie Clough is the executive director of Museums Alaska, which represents and supports more than 60 cultural institutions across the state. The following museums and cultural institutions have co-signed this statement of solidarity: Museums Alaska, Alaska Aviation Museum, Alaska Botanical Garden, Alaska Emerging Museum Professionals Chapter, Alaska Humanities Forum, Alaska Jewish Museum, Alaska State Museum Juneau, Sheldon Jackson Museum, Alaska Veterans Museum, Alpine Historical Society, Alutiiq Museum, American Bald Eagle Foundation, Anchorage Museum, Aunt Claudia’s Dolls, a Museum, Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum, CATPAW, Chickaloon Village Traditional Council, Chilkat Valley Historical Society, Clausen Memorial Museum, Cordova Historical Museum, ExhibitAK, Fairbanks Children’s Museum, Fairbanks Community/Dog Mushing Museum, Friends of Sheldon Jackson Museum, Haines Sheldon Museum, Homer Council on the Arts, Hope and Sunrise Historical and Mining Museum, Juneau-Douglas City Museum, Kawerak Katirvik Cultural Center, Ketchikan Museums, Kodiak History Museum, Little Lithuanian Museum & Library, Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry, Museum of the Aleutians, Palmer Museum of History and Art, Pioneer Air Museum, Pratt Museum & Park, Preservation Alaska, Resurrection Bay Historical Society, Sealaska Heritage Institute, Talkeetna Historical Society and Museum, Thole Exhibits And Mounts (TEAM), University of Alaska Museum of the North, and Valdez Museum and Historical Archive.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)adn.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.