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ArtsQuest, Jewish Federation Condemn Antisemitic Language Used at Christkindlmarkt | WDIY Local News

David Holifield

Several local organizations and community leaders are condemning alleged antisemitic language which was displayed over the weekend. WDIY’s Sarit Laschinsky has more.

The Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley said that it was notified Sunday evening of individuals making antisemitic statements and wearing offensive shirts during the final day of Christkindlmarkt in Bethlehem.

According to the statement, at least four people were seen wearing T-shirts which read “It’s Okay to be White,” and that “Less than 1% of White US Households Owned Slaves but Every Slave Ship & Auction was Owned by Jews.”

These individuals also told patrons that “Jews were responsible” for the September 11th terrorist attacks and for slavery, and that Jews “own and run everything.”

The JFLV’s statement noted that according to the Anti-Defamation League, the phrase “It’s Okay to be White” has become popular with white supremacists.

The federation said within an hour of being notified, JFLV President Robby Wax and Director of Campaign & Security Planning Aaron Gorodzinsky spoke with ArtsQuest President and CEO Kassie Hilgert and Vicki Doule, chair of ArtsQuest’s board of directors.

The nonprofit, which organizes Christkindlmarkt, issued its own statement on Sunday condemning the slurs, hate speech and conspiracy theories, saying that “hatred has no place in our diverse community, nor is it welcome in our beloved Christmas City or at any ArtsQuest sponsored event.”

It reiterated support for the principle of religious freedom, and for calling out hatred. The statement also noted that the incident took place on the first day of the Jewish religious festival of Hanukkah.

The JFLV said ArtsQuest is reviewing its policies to prepare for similar circumstances in the future.

The federation’s statement also made note of the support from the non-Jewish community in the Lehigh Valley, specifically highlighting proclamations against antisemitism which were recently signed by the mayors of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton.

(Original air-date: 12/19/22)

Sarit "Siri" Laschinsky was WDIY's News and Public Affairs Director until 2023.
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