The word “Nazis” was spray-painted on the fence outside the Michigan vacation home of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the U.S. ambassador to Japan and one of the nation’s most prominent Jewish political figures.
Emanuel was not at the cottage at the time.
“Our family is very proud of how our friends, neighbors and community have rallied in our support and with a singular voice in condemning hate and bigotry,” Emanuel told the Sun-Times in a text message .
Emanuel, who was in Chicago on Sunday, said he also wanted to “thank local law enforcement for the diligence, speed and seriousness with which they addressed this crime.”
The incident comes against a backdrop of rising anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, which has spiked in the United States as the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza enters its second month. The war was triggered by the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas fighters based in and controlling Gaza.
The New York Times, citing Gaza’s Health Ministry, reported Sunday that 12,000 Palestinians had been killed in Gaza while the Israeli military operation was underway. The Hamas-controlled ministry does not distinguish the deaths of civilians from those of fighters. The Israel Defense Forces said 1,300 people were killed in Israel in the October 7 attack, with around 240 hostages taken to Gaza, where they remain captive.
The defacement of the Emanuel property came to light when the head of a homeowners organization in the small lakefront community of Gordon Beach in southwest Michigan sent a message to residents Friday informing them “of a shocking incident.”
“There was a hate crime against one of our neighbors, where an anti-Semitic word was spray-painted on a property,” Council President Tom McNulty told the Gordon Beach Homeowners Association, which represents a community in Union Pier, Michigan, about 70 miles from Chicago. .
The letter states that local police “came out and confirmed there was no further damage to the property and no signs of a break-in or forced entry. The homeowner took steps to remove the offensive language.
“…We at Gordon Beach condemn this hate crime, as well as the national rise in intolerance, bigotry and hate-based criminal activity. Gordon Beach does not tolerate prejudice, bigotry, racism, hatred or violence and we encourage anyone who has experienced an act of hate to report it to the Berrien County Police.
“Gordon Beach has a history of being a welcoming community to all people. We welcome all neighbors and will continue to be a safe space where love of nature, the beach and kindness are core values,” McNulty added.
David Goldenberg, Midwest regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, told the Sun-Times: “We are disgusted by the anti-Semitic vandalism of Ambassador Emanuel’s home.
“Hate crimes affect not just the victim, but an entire community,” Goldenberg said. “Therefore, we appreciate that the homeowners association has called this an act of anti-Semitism and we urge law enforcement to investigate this as a hate crime.”
Neo-Nazis march in Madison
Last Tuesday, a massive rally on the National Mall in Washington, co-sponsored by the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, was aimed at showing unity with Israel in its war against Hamas, pushing for the return of the hostages held by Hamas and denounce the growing anti-Semitism.
In Madison, Wisconsin, a group of protesters waving swastika flags marched near the Wisconsin state capitol on Saturday.
The ADL, an organization dedicated to “fighting anti-Semitism, extremism and bigotry,” said the approximately 20 protesters are part of a neo-Nazi group Blood Tribe.
“The goal of the Blood Tribe is to normalize the swastika, usher in a resurgence of Nazi ideas, and ultimately build an occupied, Aryan-controlled and led white ethnostate,” the ADL said.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers in a statement called the protesters part of “a white supremacist, neo-Nazi organization. Seeing neo-Nazis marching in our streets and neighborhoods and in the shadow of the Capitol building spreading their disturbing and hateful messages is truly revolting.”
Governor JB Pritzker on MSNBC: Trump fuels hate
In an interview Sunday on MSNBC’s “Inside With Jen Psaki,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who like Emanuel is among the country’s most prominent Jewish political figures, said former President Donald Trump and “some MAGA extremists” they are using the rhetoric “that was used in the 1930s in Germany”.
He alluded to Trump – the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination – referring to his political opponents as “parasites.”
“What I can tell you is that the things he talks about are scary to those of us who know the history of Europe in the 1930s and 1940s,” Pritzker said, referring to the Holocaust.
Pritzker spoke about Wadea Al Fayoume, the 6-year-old Palestinian American from Plainfield who police say was stabbed to death by his landlord because the boy was Muslim. The suspect, police said, had listened to a conservative speech on the radio about the war between Israel and Hamas.
“This boy, killed, murdered, because someone had been radicalized by right-wing radio and television; it’s something we all need to pay attention to,” Pritzker said.