Israel’s UN envoy says he’ll wear Nazi yellow star until other countries condemn Hamas
Israel’s envoy to the United Nations,took an unusual step on Monday while exhorting the international body to condemn Hamas, the terrorist group that his country is trying to defeat.
Ambassador Gilad Erdan pinned to his suit jacket a yellow Star of David, telling those in attendance that he would wear the symbol—which the Nazis required Jews to wear during the Holocaust—until the United Nations votes to condemn Hamas. His version bore the words “Never Again,” a longtime rallying cry for those who want to prevent another genocide of Jews.
“Some of you have learned nothing in the past 80 years. Some of you have forgotten why this body was established,” Erdan said. “So I will remind you. From this day on, each time you look at me, you will remember what staying silent in the face of evil means.”
He added, “Just like my grandparents and the grandparents of millions of Jews, from now on, my team and I will wear yellow stars. We will wear this star until you wake up and condemn the atrocities of Hamas.”
Earlier this week, the United Nations General Assembly rejected a motion to condemn Hamas, whose attack on Oct. 7 killed 1,400 Israelis, mostly civilians. Instead, the body passed a call for a ceasefire. Israel rejects the call for a ceasefire, which would allow Hamas to remain in place in Gaza.
Some within Israel have taken to comparing Hamas to the Nazis, citing the gruesome atrocities carried out against Jews in the course of murdering them. But the Israeli government and military have more often cited ISIS, the Islamic terror group, as an apt comparison, even releasing a video showing captured Hamas terrorists agreeing with the comparison. The United Nations and world leaders around the globe have condemned ISIS and sought to eliminate the group.
Not everyone within Israel is on board with Erdan’s display. Several representatives of the Foreign Ministry told Haaretz that Erdan’s “media gimmick” was not coordinated with the country’s strategy on discussing Hamas and seemed like more of a political gambit than a strategic one.
And Yad Vashem chair Dani Dayan criticized his display, saying it “disgraces both Holocaust victims and the state of Israel” because Israel, unlike the Jews of the Holocaust, has the capacity to defend itself.
“The yellow star symbolizes the Jewish people’s helplessness and their being at the mercy of others,” he tweeted. “Today we have an independent state and a strong army. We are the masters of our fate. Today we shall wear a blue-white flag, not a yellow star, on our lapel.”
The appropriation of the yellow star in other settings has drawn criticism before, including when people opposed to vaccination requirements and other public health measures during the pandemic donned them to suggest that they were being persecuted the way the Nazis persecuted the Jews.
PHILISSA CRAMER is a contributing writer to JTA AND jlife magazine.