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Anchorage mayor defends anti-maskers who wore yellow Stars of David in protest – then apologizes

(JTA) — The mayor of Alaska’s largest city defended anti-mask protesters who wore yellow Stars of David in reference to the Holocaust, calling their use of the Nazi-era symbol a “credit” to the Jewish people.

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson opposes both mask and vaccine mandates, but as as Alaska experiences a severe COVID-19 outbreak, the Anchorage Assembly put a mask mandate on its agenda Wednesday. City residents protesting the proposed mandate showed up wearing the stars, which read “Do not comply.”

Bronson apologized on Thursday. “I understand we should not trivialize or compare what happened during the Holocaust to a mask mandate and I want to apologize for any perception that my statements support or compare what happened to the Jewish people in Nazi Germany,” he said in a statement.

Throughout the pandemic, opponents of public health measures and vaccination have worn yellow Stars of David at demonstrations and legislative hearings — drawing a parallel between their protest and the suffering endured by millions of Jews who were forced to wear the yellow stars before being murdered by the Nazis.

Other Republican politicians — including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, as well as Jewish Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel — have also compared public health measures to Nazism. Jewish groups and antisemitism watchdogs have broadly called such comparisons an inappropriate trivialization of the Holocaust.

But speaking to the local lawmakers (who did not end up voting on the mask ordinance Wednesday), Bronson — a Republican who said this summer that he was not vaccinated — defended the use of yellow stars to register opposition to masking.

“We’ve referenced the Star of David quite a bit here tonight, but there was a formal message that came out within Jewish culture about that and the message was ‘Never again,’” he said. “That’s an ethos. And that’s what that star really means is, ‘We will not forget, this will never happen again, and I think us borrowing that from them is actually a credit to them.”

(A voice off-camera then says, “Thank you, Mr. Mayor, I agree.”)

Bronson has served as mayor of Anchorage since July, when he succeeded a Jewish Democrat, Ethan Berkowitz, who resigned last year after admitting to an affair with a local reporter who then left him a profanity-filled voice message that included antisemitic epithets.

This article originally appeared on JTA.

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