Following Protests, Tobacco Store in New Jersey Removes Antisemitic Banner Calling Israelis ‘New Nazis’
An openly antisemitic banner that was hung outside a tobacco store in New Jersey for over three months was removed on Monday, following a flood of complaints.
Depicting former Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a Hitler mustache, the banner showed a swastika replacing a Star of David in the Israel flag, alongside the slogan “Stop the New Nazis.”
Layla Samara — whose family owns the the Clifton Hookah store in Paterson, NJ, where the banner was displayed — told local news outlet NorthJersey that its purpose had been to spark “controversy.”
“It was supposed to make people uncomfortable,” she said. “Talks like this need to be happening.”
The banner’s existence was publicized on Saturday by StopAntisemitism.org, a US activist group.
“We are horrified to see such an obscene banner comparing the Jewish nation and former PM to Nazis,” the group said. “When antisemitism and violence towards Jewish Americans is at an all-time high, members of the community need to stand together and build bridges, not fan the flames of hatred as the owner of Clifton Hookah has done.”
Among those condemning the banner was the mayor of Paterson, Andre Sayegh, who last month addressed a pro-Palestinian rally in which he slammed Israeli settlement policies as “haram,” the Arabic word for “forbidden.”
“It just displays ignorance,” Sayegh said of the banner. “The swastika has so much sensitivity around it. It symbolizes hatred and what happened with the Holocaust. You have to be mindful of that.”
Samara explained that the banner had been removed from the store’s entrance, “because we didn’t want to cause pain to a community that we love. The bigger issue is to free Palestine. We can’t free Palestine by arguing.”